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Root vegetables make a warming winter soup

Recipe: Adapt the ingredients to your favorites

The puréed vegetable soup is garnished with olive oil, freshly ground black pepper, crushed Aleppo pepper and cooked bacon pieces.

The puréed vegetable soup is garnished with olive oil, freshly ground black pepper, crushed Aleppo pepper and cooked bacon pieces.

Kathy Morrison

Rainy, then cold, then rainy AND cold – that’s been December so far. All I could think of to make the other day was soup – thick, warming soup, to serve with a big crusty loaf of whole wheat bread.

The New York Times Cooking app came to my rescue, with this easy root vegetable soup that I’ve adapted to boost the flavors. Depending on what you like and/or have in the pantry, the soup can include regular or sweet potatoes, parsnips, rutabagas, turnips, carrots or celery root. These combine with the usual aromatics of onions or leeks, plus garlic and celery.

I like potato-leek soup just fine, and could have gone with just russets, but wanted to make the flavors a little richer, so I included carrots and parsnips in my version. I used 4 potatoes, 3 carrots and 2 large parsnips, for a total of 3-½ pounds of root vegetables before peeling.

 I also make and freeze my own vegetable stock, but added some chicken broth and a half-cup of white wine to fill out the liquid needed. And since this was going to be dinner, I cooked a bit of chopped bacon first, then used the fat to brown the onion and leeks. The bacon became the final garnish for a delicious warm meal.

The soup cooks pretty quickly – less an hour, after all the peeling and chopping is done. I used my immersion blender to smooth it all out, but leave it chunky if you like, or maybe blend just half of it.

The bacon, incidentally, is optional, as is just about everything in this recipe. However, I highly recommend a sprinkle of Aleppo crushed red pepper – or any crushed red pepper – as part of the garnish. It gives the soup a delightful pop of heat, and heat is what we all need these chilly days!

Root vegetable soup

Serves 6 to 8


4 slices of bacon, cut into small pieces, or 3 tablespoons olive oil or butter

1 onion or 2 leeks, or both, trimmed and chopped

3 stalks celery, chopped

3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced

3 sprigs rosemary or thyme

2 bay leaves


Black pepper

½ cup white wine, optional

Closeup of carrot and potato chunks in broth
Cook the veggies in broth until tender.

8 cups vegetable or chicken broth, or a combination, divided

3-½ pounds of root vegetables, peeled and chopped (a combination of any of these: russet potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, rutabagas, turnips, carrots or celery root)

Juice of ½ lemon

Garnish options:

Freshly ground black pepper

Extra-virgin olive oil

Aleppo pepper flakes or other red pepper flakes

Grated Parmesan cheese

Additional lemon juice

Cooked bacon pieces, reserved from above


If using the bacon, cook it over medium heat in a large, heavy Dutch oven or soup pot until crispy, then remove the cooked bacon and reserve. Otherwise, heat the 3 tablespoons of olive oil or butter in the pot.

one red and one blue bowl of soup on a counter
Garnish the soup to taste. We added bacon, too.

Cook the chopped onion and/or leeks and celery in fat until tender, up to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add the garlic, rosemary or thyme stalks, and the bay leaves, cooking for another minute.

Stir in the white wine if using, then about 2 cups of the broth. Add 2 teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Stir well. Set aside 1 cup of the rest of the broth for later, then add the remaining 5 cups broth and the chopped root vegetables.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Taste the broth and adjust the seasonings.

Remove the soup from the heat and let it cool slightly. Remove the herb stalks and the bay leaves from the pot. Purée all or some of the soup with an immersion blender or in batches using a regular blender. Return to low heat, and if the soup seems too thick, add the reserved 1 cup broth and heat gently. (Be careful with hot soup! The purée can volcano out of the pot; I have a burn to prove it.) Stir in the lemon juice.

Serve soup in warmed bowls with a drizzle of olive oil and a grinding of black pepper, plus, as desired, a pinch of Aleppo pepper, a few drops of lemon juice, a sprinkling of Parmesan and/or some bacon pieces.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Sept. 24:

This week our weather will be just right for fall gardening. What are you waiting for?

* Now is the time to plant for fall. The warm soil will get these veggies off to a fast start.

* Keep harvesting tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons and eggplant. Tomatoes may ripen faster off the vine and sitting on the kitchen counter.

* Compost annuals and vegetable crops that have finished producing.

* Cultivate and add compost to the soil to replenish its nutrients for fall and winter vegetables and flowers.

* Fertilize deciduous fruit trees.

* Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into the vegetable beds.

* Transplant cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower as well as lettuce seedlings.

* Sow seeds of California poppies, clarkia and African daisies.

* Transplant cool-weather annuals such as pansies, violas, fairy primroses, calendulas, stocks and snapdragons.

* Divide and replant bulbs, rhizomes and perennials. That includes bearded iris; if they haven’t bloomed in three years, it’s time to dig them up and divide their rhizomes.

* Dig up and divide daylilies as they complete their bloom cycle.

* Divide and transplant peonies that have become overcrowded. Replant with “eyes” about an inch below the soil surface.

* Late September is ideal for sowing a new lawn or re-seeding bare spots.

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