Root Vegetable Soup

Sometimes in winter it seems like the market is bare. But there are plenty of roots! Use them to make a versatile soup one of these rainy nights.

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This is another recipe from our old Martha Stewart’s Quick Cook Menus. We’ve made this soup many ways over the years, taking our cues from Martha’s suggestions. The basic recipe, as the name suggests, has plenty of root vegetables in it: onions, shallots, leeks, garlic, parsnips, carrots, celeriac, potatoes, and turnips. Alternatives suggested are sweet potatoes, rutabaga, and winter squash (not a root veggie but a good winter vegetable). I used white sweet potato in this recipe recently for the first time. I left out the regular white potatoes and the sweet potatoes added some starch in their place. While white sweet potatoes can often be a bit too sweet, the other roots - turnips especially - counteracted the sweetness in the soup.

This recipe is listed in the spring section of the cookbook, but is appropriate in winter. If you are unable to find some of the vegetables, simply substitute others. Keep in mind their varying flavors - and strengths of their flavors - to keep the soup in balance. Potatoes and parsnips are fairly neutral, while sweet potatoes are very sweet, and turnips can have quite the strong flavor.

One disadvantage of making this in winter is the shortage of fresh herbs for garnish. There are plenty of microgreens at the market, though, and those can make tasty and attractive garnishes. I can imagine buckwheat or radish leaves arranged looking like little hearts floating on the soup.

I have not tried beet in this soup, and I think a whole beet could be too strong a flavor. A little red beet purée could make a nice pink color without too strong a flavor. Golden beet has a more mellow flavor and might be usable in a greater quantity than red. It would make a pretty yellow soup, too!

This recipe is easily made vegan by using olive oil or another substitute for the butter, and vegetable stock or water for the chicken stock. Before I started chopping veggies for this soup I browned veggie scraps from the freezer and simmered them in water. I had stock that was ready when the soup veggies were done sautéing.

The other suggested menu items are spring-themed: lamb chops with mint pesto and asparagus. I roasted chicken and Brussels sprouts instead for a hearty winter meal.


Root Vegetable Soup


From Martha Stewart’s Quick Cook Menus
Serves 4 to 6

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 yellow onions, peeled and chopped
4 shallots, peeled and chopped
1 leek, trimmed, washed, and thinly sliced crosswise
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice
2 carrots, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice
1 large celeriac (celery root), peeled and cut into ½ inch dice
3 potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice
2 white turnips, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice
1 ½ cups chicken stock or water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sprigs of fresh coriander (cilantro), parsley, chervil, or watercress

  1. In a large, heavy saucepan, melt the butter and slowly cook the onions, shallots, leek, and garlic until tender and soft, about 5 minutes; do not brown.
  2. Add the diced root vegetables and stock. Simmer until all vegetables are soft, approximately 35 minutes. Puree in 2-cup batches in a food processor until smooth.
  3. Return pureed soup to the saucepan; heat through and season to taste. Serve hot, garnished with a sprig of fresh herb.

Heather’s notes:

  1. Use different root vegetables, and/or in varying amounts. Keep in the mind the flavors of each type and use accordingly. For example: sweet potatoes will add sweetness; rutabagas, while not sweet, will be sweeter than their turnip cousins; beets may be too earthy.
  2. Different root vegetables will also color the soup differently. Martha’s photo shows a light yellow soup, while mine was a light peachy color. A little red beet puree, cooked separately, will turn a light soup pink without changing the flavor.
  3. Use your favorite non-dairy alternative to butter, plus vegetable stock or water, to make this recipe vegan.
  4. Add some winter squash for a different flavor.
  5. Top with microgreens instead of fresh herbs.
  6. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup right in the pot.

Printable recipe here

Victoria Capdevielle