I was recently in Sarasota visiting my Mom and we went to one of her favorite restaurants, Eat Here, which features a wide variety of small plates to share. We ordered bruschetta followed by a beautiful platter of roasted vegetables. The bruschetta was good, but the roasted vegetables were spectacular: carrots, beets, potatoes, onions and green beans. We ate every bite, fighting over the last onion. I realized later that except for the green beans, they were all root vegetables. While root vegetables are typically seen as the unglamorous workhorses of the produce department, when you roast them they transform into jewels with a completely different flavor- a sweet, caramelized taste and an apple pie aroma.
It is amazing to me that you can roast carrots and parsnips, puree them with vegetable broth, and end up with a creamy soup that tastes and feels like a rich cream bisque. Add some fresh ginger and a few spices and you have a wonderful, warm winter soup.
Speaking of ginger, I must digress for a minute. When I sat down to read the January issue of Self magazine, one of the headlines on the front cover grabbed my attention. It said, “Miracle Ingredient, It keeps you healthy, pretty, thinner, too.” Of course I rushed immediately to that page to see what this miracle ingredient could be and where I could buy it. Turns out it’s ginger root. The article said ginger offers four important health benefits: cancer protection, cold relief, hangover help (queasy stomach), and muscle pain relief. All great benefits, yes, but nowhere in the article was an explanation of how ginger makes you prettier or thinner. And I read it four times. I will continue to use ginger in recipes because I like the flavor it adds, and if by chance a miracle happens to take place, I’ll let you know.
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups chopped yellow onion
- 2½ cups coarsely chopped carrot (about 1 pound)
- 3 cups coarsely chopped parsnip (about 1 pound, plus one more parsnip to use for topping)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ginger root, minced or grated
- 3 cups water
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ cup (1/8-inch-thick) slices parsnip (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and chop the carrots and parsnips into large pieces. Spread out on large roasting pan and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Roast for 15-20 minutes or until vegetables start to blister and can easily be pierced with a fork. Remove from oven.
- If you want parsnip chips for a topping, slice a parsnip into ⅛ inch slices, toss with olive oil and salt, and put them in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until they start to brown and curl at the edges.
- Heat the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large soup pot. Saute the onions, garlic and ginger until soft and fragrant.
- Add the water and the broth to the pot. Add the roasted vegetables and spices. Bring to a boil and then simmer gently for about 5 minutes.
- Puree with a stick blender or in your blender or food processor. Add more salt if needed.
- Top with parsnip chips and serve.