Food + Drink + Life + Health

Root vegetable madness!


If you live in a region where the weather is cold right now, that means it’s root vegetable season! Since the roots are “storage organs” (I know, ewww!) for a plant’s nutrients, root veggies are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants that are really good for you. They’re also easy to keep and store in the winter, and you can usually buy a whole host of varieties locally—something that can be tricky if you live in a part of the world where temperatures drop to points that are inhospitable to growing a lot of other types of vegetables year-round.

There’s a pretty concise list of root vegetables here, and you can see how many options there are to choose from. You can mix and match as much as you like; I’ve never had a problem with root veggies clashing in a dish. It’s nice to combine at least one item from each category (true root, stem, and bulb), though—for example, you might use parsnips and carrots with ginger and fennel together. Don’t be afraid to try different combinations! The best and most flavorful choice is usually what you can find locally grown.

Here’s a soup recipe that I made over the weekend. I used all of the root vegetables in the photo (three pounds!). It’s very basic, and that’s intentional—you should feel free to add herbs, ginger, greens (kale would be perfect!), or whatever you like to make the soup your own. It’s lovely as-is, too, especially with a sandwich or some crusty bread and a salad on the side.

Whether or not you peel your root vegetables is up to you, but they should be scrubbed well if not. And if you get a rutabaga that’s been waxed, you really need to peel it, obviously. (Try to get unwaxed, if possible!)

Serves 6-8
Adapted from Harmony Valley Farm

1 small onion, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
3 pounds assorted true root vegetables, cut into 1″ chunks
8 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups vegetable stock
3/4 cup soy (or almond) cream

• In a large stock pot, sautée onion in olive oil over medium heat until translucent, stirring to prevent sticking.

• Add root vegetables and garlic (and ginger, if you want). Reduce heat slightly, cover pot. Let cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

• Add vegetable stock and any herbs/spices you’d like. Increase temperature and bring to a simmer. Cover partially, and let simmer for 30 minutes.

• Allow soup to cool a bit until there’s no risk of it burning you. In batches, purée the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth.

• Reheat soup. If you want, add greens at this time and allow them to cook until they reach tenderness. Gently stir in the cream at the very end, and heat just until the soup is hot. Serve with freshly-cracked pepper!

Feel free to share your own favorite root vegetable recipes in the comments!

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  • Reply Jason | These Roving Eyes December 15, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    I love that image!

  • Reply jaclyn December 15, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Root Vegetable mash is our favorite winter side dish:
    8 oz or 1 1/2 c root veg (carrot, parsnip, turnip, celery root all work great)
    1 1/2 pounds yukon gold potatoes
    peel and rinse everything
    1/3 c chicken or veg broth
    3/4 c half and half (don’t know how to make this vegan, take it away Anna!)
    3 T minced fresh chives

    Melt 4 tablespoons of butter into a large saucepan, add the root veg and cook until browned. Add potatoes, broth and 3/4 t salt, cook covered over low heat until potatoes fall apart. 25-30 min. Remove from heat, mash with heated half and half. Stir in chives and serve. I make this for parties and winter meals and always get asked for the recipe.

    Side note to Anna: I’ve been meaning to email you to say how much I enjoy your weekend to do list posts. They inspire me lots!

    • Anna @ D16 December 15, 2010 at 12:20 pm

      You can just tell me here, Jaclyn, no need to email! 😉

      Your recipe sounds super yummy! It’s easy to substitute half & half, too…Silk soy creamer works perfectly in most cases, but for this dish, I’d just use silken tofu (yes, seriously!).

  • Reply erin December 15, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Fennel has to be my favorite root vegetable and not just because I love its binomial name (Foeniculum vulgare). I like to slice a couple of bulbs, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and roast at 400 until they start to caramelize. So simple! I’m looking forward to trying your soup – your veg chili recipe has become a staple in our home which we call “door 16 chili”

  • Reply angie w December 15, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    what a timely post for me – I went to the co-op last night to get some root vegetables to experiment with! One recipe I like is to take sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, gold beets, and really whatever vegetables are on hand and dice them. I toss them with olive oil, roasted garlic, fresh cracked pepper, and simply organic seasoning. Roast at 400 degrees til done. They are heavenly! If there are any leftovers next time I am planning to try them reheated in a brown rice tortilla.

  • Reply fritz December 15, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    this is a good time of year to be eating “root chakkra” food according to my Qi Gong energy friends

    raw carrots are my real deal

  • Reply Amanda- Hip House Girl December 15, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Yummmm, your soup sounds delicious.

    Last night I made Indian food, and for dessert I made Carrot Halva, which I’d never had but discovered in the Indian cookbook (The Food of India). Basically you cook a bunch of shredded carrots in milk (could probably use soy if you wanted) then add some butter (margarine or oil?), sugar, lots of cardamom, raisins, and slivered almonds. Although it’s a vegetable, the butter and sugar, plus the ice cream or cream with which you eat it, ensure that it is not a healthy dessert. But it’s ohhhhh so delicious and very wintery.

    • Anna @ D16 December 15, 2010 at 1:18 pm

      I’ve had carrot halva before (I think it was at a Turkish restaurant?), and it is superb!!! I really should try to do a vegan version of it, I can’t imagine it’s too difficult…

  • Reply Lena December 15, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    I love parsnips sliced into coins and roasted with a bit of olive oil, sweetener (honey, brown sugar, agave, whatever you do), thyme, salt and pepper. But then where they get super delicious is to add whole, blanched almonds at the end. Yum. I’ve also done a mix of parsnips and pale yellow carrots and it is yummy.

    I also love root veg because babies love them (at least mine does) so it makes “family meals” where we all eat the same thing possible!

  • Reply Heidi December 15, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    This is one of my favorites. If you skip the goat cheese (which we usually do) it’s vegan.

  • Reply Fiona December 15, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Nom Nom Nom. Going downstairs now to soak pulses for tomorrow’s batch because the last lot’s gone a bit manky in the fridge waiting for me to get around to it. I heard a really intriguing tip for veg soup the other day. Apparently a spoon of black treacle is the professionals’ secret ingredient. Will report back.

    • Anna @ D16 December 15, 2010 at 4:51 pm

      Black treacle is the same as molasses, right?

  • Reply tawn December 15, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    mixed roasted root veggies are incredible when sprinkled with salt and pepper, then drizzled with hazelnut or walnut oil.

  • Reply Isabelle December 15, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    We love to make pumpkin-carrot soup or carrot-ginger soup or carrot-coconut soup or carrot with orangejuice soup or pumpkin with orangejuice soup.

    And one of the first recipes I ever made was potatoe-carrot-gratin, where you put potato and carrot slices in rows in a gratin-dish and then pour a mustard-egg-cream-mixture over it to bake.

    Very nice your veggie-display. We do not have this kind of selection here in CH. But they are offering purple carrots lately, which are “antique vegetable types” that they try to “keep alive”.

  • Reply ehalvey December 15, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    Oh yum! I cannot find a parsnip in Nashville to save my life. I can’t find them ’til late winter, which is a shame because they’re lovely in soup or roasted or mashed. What does a rutabaga taste like? I’ve tried turnips and find their taste kind of dirt-like, but the other veggies in your soup are delish.

  • Reply woolgathering & miscellany December 15, 2010 at 6:47 pm


    • Anna @ D16 December 15, 2010 at 6:51 pm

      HAHAHAHA!!!!! Totally unintentional, but you’re right. I should have used Futura Bold! 😀

  • Reply Sam December 15, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    Wow. I has no idea what a rutabaga was!
    But then I realised they’re actually called swedes here (Australia)
    I will have to try your recipe in our winter.

  • Reply me @{life or something...} December 15, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    jerusalem artichoke mash! (aka sunchokes?)

    it’s easy! and oh so yum! just wash and boil the jerusalem artichoke like you would a potato, then mash with a fork when its cooked. You can add salt, but there’s no need to add butter (is there a vegan substitute for butter?) because the jerusalem artichoke tastes like butter naturally.

    Just becareful, not to eat TOO many sunchokes at once, or you are at risk of getting a massive gas attack. Trust me. I learned the hard way. It was NOT fun. Now I limit my servings to 4-5 at once, and its fine!

    • Anna @ D16 December 15, 2010 at 8:20 pm

      That sounds awesome (except the last part, haha)!! And yes, there is a GREAT vegan substitute for butter called Earth Balance. It comes in a tub or in stick form. I bake with it all the time, and I can’t tell the difference!

  • Reply Meg December 15, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    Anna, have you ever made Gourmet’s vegetarian shepherd’s pie recipe? It’s from their last issue (November 2009), and it is AMAZING. I think you tend to lean vegan, and I’m sure you could come up with a way to get rid of the dairy in the topping. It’s really the wine-and-roasted-veggie stock that makes it insanely good. I skip the seitan and add extra veggies instead.

    • Anna @ D16 December 15, 2010 at 11:03 pm

      Oooooh, that sounds REALLY good, and it would be totally easy to make it vegan. I love seitan, though, so I’d leave that in. 🙂 Thanks!!

  • Reply donna December 15, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    great photo! And this post is timely as I’ve been making barley vegetable and potato soup and also minestrone for weeks now and it is a time for a change. I love root veggies especially beets.

  • Reply Katie December 16, 2010 at 1:09 am

    Roasted Roots

    Gold Potatoes
    Smashed Whole Clove Garlic

    really any root veg will do

    Large dice all root vegetables in any combo. Toss with olive oil or vegetable oil and a little sesame oil. add some Tamari and salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer on a sheet pan.
    Roast at 425 for around 40 minutes (check at 20 minutes and turn veg) until caramelized and tender.
    I like to serve this with wasabi or chipotle mayo/sour cream.

  • Reply kattia December 16, 2010 at 2:04 am

    I love roasted root veggies I made them for Thanksgiving and they were a hit. Also this mashed parsnip and mashed potato recipe is yum too…

    But I could eat anything parsnip anytime!

  • Reply mel December 16, 2010 at 7:01 am

    Since going vegetarian we’ve really embraced root veg. I used to HATE red beets, but now I can’t get enough. One of my favorite dishes:
    Boiled, cubed red beets
    Cubed feta
    Fresh mint
    Fresh oregano
    Just toss it in a bowl. It goes well with wheat grain too. 🙂

  • Reply Taysa December 16, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    My favorite way to eat root vegetables is just simply roasted, but last week I made a parsnip risotto. I just cut and cooked the parsnips for about 8 minutes before I began to add the rice. They were perfect by the time the rice was done.

  • Reply dew i December 17, 2010 at 6:36 am

    My absolute favorite root vegetable is Celeriac.

    Celeriac Salad.

    celery root (celeriac)
    mayonnaise (homemade makes it even more yummy)
    coarse-grain mustard
    lemon juice
    black pepper

    Peel celery root and shred on grater
    or cut by hand into small matchstick size pieces to practice your knife skills;)
    Blanch in boiling salted water.
    Combine with mayonnaise, mustard, and lemon juice and some fresh parsley if you like.

    Chill or eat warm.

  • Reply Leigha December 17, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    This recipes sound delicious. Perfect to take the chill off December evenings.


  • Reply Holyoke Home December 17, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    Oh my god. Thank you. There are 100 pounds of root vegetables on my back porch and now I have something to do with them.

    • Melanie December 19, 2010 at 9:45 pm

      I am very curious as to how you obtained 100lbs of root veggies!

  • Reply teresa December 18, 2010 at 6:49 am

    I love parsnips, turnips, and carrots in miso soup! Excellent when you are sick.

  • Reply Melanie December 19, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    That picture makes me want some veggie stews! I feel you can’t go wrong with sweet mashed potatoes + some lime juice and chipotle seasoning to taste. Perfect balance of sweet/tart/spicy.

  • Reply Zach December 20, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    Tried this–or at least a modified form–today. It’s delicious…and also the first time I’ve ever bought turnips or rutabagas. The cashier at the grocery store had to ask me what the turnip was, too:)

  • Reply A December 22, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    I made a similar soup for a party last year – only simpler. I just tossed some veggie stock and water in the crock pot, chopped up the aforementioned root veggies and basically forgot about it.

    The goal was a last-minute vegetarian option for a party where I was serving a giant beef chili. The outcome (at a party where, as it turned out, zero vegetarians showed up) was a completely dry crock pot at the end of the night and a LOT of leftover chili.

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