Roasted Root Vegetable Stew
This week finally felt like winter around here. Don’t get me wrong. It’s certainly been frigid for several weeks now, but the skies were gray and the ground dull brown. The epitome of winter, at least in my mind, is brilliant blue skies with blinding sunlight streaming down that makes a generous blanket of snow glisten as it crunches under your feet. That’s what this week has been in southeastern Pennsylvania. And the sunsets…ah, the winter sunsets are the most beautiful with hues of violet, crimson and orange that cut through the leafless trees. There’s another stunning one developing right this very minute as I type. I love that my window looks west!
I won’t bore you with a tired line like “winter’s the perfect season to snuggle up with a bowl of soup”. You know that already. What you might not think about though is making soup out of whatever is lying around your kitchen, rather than trooping off to the store to buy ingredients, or – gasp! – a can. Before we get to discussing today’s recipe for Roasted Root Vegetable Stew, I’m going to take the liberty to reprint here the soup “blueprint” I posted last January.
The Soup Blueprint
1. Heat your fat (oil or butter or lard) in a large soup pot
2. Sauté any combination of garlic and onions (add more of whichever you like)
3. Add pinches of salt and pepper with each addition of ingredients in order to build your flavor
4. Add any combination of vegetables and continue sautéing
5. Add your dried herbs and spices and continue sautéing
6. Add your stock, at least enough to let the vegetables swim freely
7. Bring to a boil
8. If you want any pastas or grains, add them now (be very generous with your stock if using these)
9. Reduce to a simmer and cook until everything’s soft and happy – usually about 30 minutes
10. Add fresh herbs during the last ten minutes of cooking
11. Blend if you want a smooth soup and/or add cream if you want
12. Taste and season with more salt and pepper
13. Taste again!
14. If you wanted meat in there somewhere, depending on if it’s cooked or raw, add it in either step two (to brown beef), eight (to cook chicken), or ten (for cooked anything)
So there I was, in the mood for a thick hearty soup, staring into my pantry and brainstorming. The only substantial local ingredients in there right now are a diverse assortment of root vegetables: parsnips, rutabagas, celeriac root, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, onions and carrots. How I love roasted vegetables, particularly any of the root variety! It wasn’t a big mental leap then to think of roasting the roots first before putting them in some broth for a stew. Added a few chick peas from the cupboard and pinches of herbs, and I had just what I was craving. Perhaps it’s precisely what you’re craving too?
Huh, would you look at that? I just realized this picture has the exact same colors as that sunset outside my window! How perfect!
Roasted Root Vegetable Stew
A Straight from the Farm Original
1 large rutabaga
2 medium russet potatoes
1 large or several small parsnips
1 large carrot
1 large sweet potato
1 small celeriac root
1 medium onion
1 can (14 oz) of chic peas, drained
1 T. olive oil
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 t. dried marjoram or thyme
1 t. freshly finely chopped rosemary (optional)
3-4 C. vegetable broth
*Note: Since vegetable sizes are somewhat arbitrary, just be sure to have roughly one cup’s worth of each of the above vegetables.
Scrub and trim ends and any bad spots off of all the root vegetables. I did not peel mine, but you may wish to peel some or all of the root vegetables. The celeriac in particular could benefit from a quick “haircut” to get rid of some of the rougher outer edges.
Preheat your oven to 450 F. To prep the vegetables for roasting, cut everything, including the onion, into 1 inch cubes. Place on a foil-lined cookie sheet or in a roasting pan. Add the chic peas to the chopped vegetables. Drizzle with oil and toss with your hands so everything is evenly coated. Rinse your hands and season the vegetables with a generous pinch each of salt and pepper and the teaspoon of herb. Toss again with your hands and spread into a single layer.
Roast vegetables in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until they are browning at the edges, but still fairly juicy. Just before the vegetables are ready, bring 3 cups of vegetable broth to a boil in a large saucepan. When vegetables are done roasting, carefully add to the hot broth. If desired, add the additional cup of broth. Let soup simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes. Using the back of your stirring spoon, press some of the vegetables up against the side of the saucepan until they are smashed to help thicken the soup. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Serve piping hot with hunks of homemade bread.