Diced vegetables were already sizzling in olive oil as I walked into Debbie’s. I peered in and saw onions, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes and squash filling about a third of the pot. Pretty much the same ingredients were inside the bag I was about to unload. I had a ton of squash from my CSA (and apparently so did Debbie), a handful of assorted apples from a day in the orchard, and too many different kinds of squash and potatoes. It was time to use up our stockpile of fall farm vegetables and create our annual Root Soup.
Debbie, who was already scrubbing at the sink, switched hands quickly and traded her sponge and dirty dishes for a peeler and my squash. She peeled (which was a relief since I didn’t have my favorite peeler on hand) while I chopped. Trying to remember what flavors usually accent our hodgepodge of vegetables, Debbie and I had a dialogue about what we’d put into our soup.
It kind of went like this:
“Did you put any garlic in?” “It could use more.”
“What do you think about white wine?” “Sure why not.”
“How large were your sweet potatoes? “Good size, but go ahead and add yours.”
“Should we use vegetable or chicken stock?” ”Let’s use a little of both.”
We tossed, poured and spooned our ingredients into the pot and in no time, it was filled to the brim. While we waited for the vegetables to become tender enough to puree, I noticed that Debbie was roasting some long hot peppers. We decided that we’d “Southwesternize” our Root Soup this year and top it with spicy peppers and a sour cream.
As the soup simmered, the delicious combination of aromas kept our kids popping in and out of the kitchen to see what we were making. By the time the soup was ready, six kids were lined up for a bowl. Debbie’s friend stopped by and he got to enjoy a sampling too. In fact, his raves were so effective (and we were sufficiently flattered), we packed him a quart to take home to his family.
Our soup making session was fruitful in many ways. We used up our farm veggies, spent quality time together, were creative as we improvised, exposed our kids to some new flavors and even shared some with a friend. I look forward to next fall when we get to do it again!
Here’s our recipe for Root Soup (to the best of our recollection):
Makes a lot of soup (about 5-6 quarts)
3 Onions, diced
4 cloves Garlic, peeled and mashed
4 Potatoes, peeled and sliced
4 Sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
4 Butternut squash, peeled and diced
2 Delicate squash, peeled and diced
2 Carnival squash, peeled, seeded and diced
6 Carrots, peeled and chopped
2 Apples, peeled, seeded and chopped
4 ribs celery
¾ – 1 cup of white wine
Bunch of parsley
Salt and pepper
Vegetable stock (or “Better than Boullion)
Chicken Stock (or “Better than Boullion)
Sauté vegetables in a large soup pot, starting with the onions and garlic. Add vegetables as you peel and chop and then cover (by a few inches) with stock of your choice. Season with salt, pepper and any other flavors you’d like (curry powder or fresh thyme would be nice.) Bring to a boil and then simmer until fork tender (about 30 minutes) and puree using an immersion blender (or by transferring in batches to a blender).
If you’re not sure what kind of squash you picked up at the market, I found this website to be particularly handy. http://whatscookingamerica.net/squash.htm