Add Roots to Your Winter Soups

Posted by Tom Cowan on

Now is unquestionably the root-vegetable time of the year. In our Napa Garden, we are still able to harvest beets, carrots, Brussels sprouts, tree collards and a few other scattered roots popping out of the ground. Our fall plantings of celeriac, rutabaga, watermelon radishes are all gone and have found their way into our early-winter soup pot. Luckily, unlike in previous years, we have the dried versions of these vegetables to substitute in our hearty soups and stews.  It’s hard to explain why, but there is something in these hardy root vegetables that simply feels right this time of the year.

Parsnips, rutabagas and celeriac are in three distinct families of vegetables; maybe that’s why they like to come together in the same pot. Parsnips are a sweet member of the carrot family, rutabagas are a tangy example of the sulphoraphane-rich brassicas (cabbage, broccoli) family, and celeriac is the root version of the common celery plant. Celery juice has become one of the stars in the health market because of the publicity around its detoxifying effects.  Celeriac shares some of these properties, without the green component. For some, this might even be a benefit as it eliminates the excessive oxalate exposure that can come from the consumption of large amounts of green juices.

In any case, both our Parsnip and Root Medley powders are welcome additions, especially this time of the year, as the menu, at least in the Cowan/Smith household, has some sort of soup or stew almost every day. We use 1 to 2 teaspoons mixed right into our morning soup pot (which serves three people).

On a slightly different note, in the past few months, I have started to cook almost all of my food in a Japanese cooking pot called a donabe. My first donabe was a birthday gift, and it was made by a centuries-old company in Japan. I can only say that cooking food in a donabe is a culinary revelation. All the food cooks more evenly, more thoroughly and is more flavorful; therefore, it probably retains more nutrients by far than any other cooking style I have ever used. Check it out. The company can be found at jinenstore.com.   I now have three donabes and can’t imagine cooking any other way.

Wishing you health and peace,
Tom

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