Thursday, January 12, 2012

Root Vegetable Soup

Oh my goodness, look at the time! Almost half of January is gone and I haven’t had any new messy adventures to report. The truth is that I’ve just been off my game a bit, but, to avoid making 2012 the Year of the Procrastinator, I thought I’d tell you about root vegetable soup.

I suppose some folks think they’re exercising a bit of kindness when calling these sturdy winter storage crops “humble.” A closer look at the likes of rutabagas, turnips, potatoes or parsnips might lead to more discriminating adjectives like “grungy” or “dumpy” and their tastes and association with long, hungry winters might invoke “boring,” “stodgy,” or even “a little funky.” I love these oft-maligned vegetables, however, (except for beets. Don’t even talk to me about beets.) and I love this root vegetable soup that I adapted from The Ultimate Cookbook by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough.

You could probably vary the vegetables for this soup depending on what you like and what you have on hand. I used those called for in the original recipe: carrot, potato, turnip, rutabaga and parsnip, although I made a smaller pot of soup. You also could vary the seasonings, of course. I used lots of mustard, which I love with roots, and some fresh thyme, which I happened to have in the refrigerator. This is kind of a use-what-you have recipe for cold winter days and nights when you don’t feel like going out to get ingredients for something more fancy.

Just a few days ago, I didn’t even feel like eating a hot and hearty soup like this one. The temperatures were topping out near 50 F, which is just weird in Minnesota in January. Now that the snow and the wind and the cold are back, at least for a while, this soup is just right. It’s thick and creamy but still chunky, since I pureed about half of it, leaving the rest of the vegetables whole. The flavor is faintly sweet and gently bitter as is the nature of a good mixture of roots. There’s a hefty dose of mustard, which I love with root vegetables and a bit of tang from some sour cream. Of course, just that it’s hot and comforting goes a long way on a cold and blustery day like today. Hopefully it will give me energy and inspiration to get this show back on the road!

Root Vegetable Soup with Mustard
Adapted from The Ultimate Cookbook by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough

You could use vegetable broth in place of the chicken broth if you prefer to make this soup vegetarian. Start with less salt if you are not using a low-sodium broth and add to taste if needed.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion (or half of a large one), chopped
1 teaspoon coarse salt, or to taste
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into ¼- ½ inch pieces
1 medium parsnip, peeled and cut into ¼- ½ inch pieces
1 medium rutabaga, peeled and cut into ¼- ½ inch pieces
1 medium turnip, peeled and cut into ¼- ½ inch pieces
1 medium baking potato, peeled and cut into ¼- ½ inch pieces
¼ teaspoon black pepper
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme (optional)
1 bay leaf
4 cups chicken broth (I used reduced-sodium)
¼ cup sour cream (I used reduced-fat)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
additional sour cream and chopped parsley to garnish

1. Heat the butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until melted. Add the onion and salt. Saute about 5 minutes, or until the onion is softened. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook and stir about 30 seconds more.

2. Add the carrot, parsnip, rutabaga, turnip, and potato. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the black pepper, thyme, bay leaf, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat and boil gently until the vegetables are very soft, about 35 to 45 minutes.

4. Remove from the heat. Remove the bay leaf and the thyme sprigs (most of the thyme leaves will have fallen off) and discard. Remove about half of the soup and set aside. Puree the remaining soup with an immersion blender. Return the soup that you removed earlier to the pan and stir to combine. (Or, you can puree half the soup in a regular blender and return it to the pan.)

5. Stir in the sour cream and Dijon mustard until smooth. Heat through if necessary. Taste for seasoning, especially salt, and adjust if necessary. Serve with additional sour cream and chopped parsley.

Makes about 6 servings.

Other recipes like this one: Cream of Carrot and Parsnip Soup, Spicy Carrot and Apple Soup with Coconut Milk, Creamy Cabbage and Potato Soup, Celeriac, Potato and Wild Rice Soup or go here for my favorite hot winter soups.

One year ago: Hot Cocoa and Finnish Cardamom Bread

Two years ago: Red Cabbage Slaw with Apples and Cranberries and Potato and Celeriac Casserole with Baked Eggs


  1. Thanks for posting this. I made it today using a 6-qt Instant Pot. I followed your recipe almost exactly but cooked the vegetables for 20 minutes under manual high pressure followed by a natural pressure release. I did add a tablespoon of honey in memory of a lovely team of soup makers whose recipe was similar to yours. They made their soup with honey mustard.

    1. That sounds great! Thanks for the Instant Pot Technique. And honey mustard sounds like it would be delicious here!