Saturday, February 03, 2007

Holy Fuck It's Cold Out So Let's Eat Some Food, Mostly Plants, Roasted Root Vegetable Stew

I was inspired to make this stew by two things: the single-digit temperatures and Michael Pollan's admonition to "Eat food. Mostly plants." Making this soup gave me the opportunity to eat some plants and run the oven at a high temperature, keeping the kitchen nice and toasty for awhile at least.

I'm usually all about one pot, few ingredient, easyfast meals but not here. Basically, this is the soup to make if it's too fucking cold to go outside but you have run out of things to do in the house.

Holy Fuck It's Cold Out So Let's Eat Some Food, Mostly Plants, Roasted Root Vegetable Stew

You will need:
A selection of root vegetables, washed, peeled as necessary, and cut into half-inch cubes. I used: carrots, parsnips, new potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, beets, leeks, onions, garlic, and fennel. You want enough cubed veggies to fill your soup pot about halfway.
2 T of olive oil
Two healthy pinches of kosher salt
Pan spray
2 bay leaves
Sprig of rosemary
A few sprigs of thyme
Two slices of (turkey) bacon cut into small pieces - optional. If you use turkey bacon, get the really good kind.
2 T butter
2 T flour
1/4 t cardamom
1/4 t grated nutmeg
1/2 t ground coriander seed
Chicken or veggie broth

Roast the veggies:

Preheat oven to 450. Line a big cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray it with some pan spray or use that new-fangled nonstick aluminum foil. Toss the cubed vegetables with the olive oil and some salt. Spread evenly over the cookie sheet and roast for about 20, 30 minutes. You don't want to roast them all the way - you just want to bring out a little of the sugars and get some nice roasty flavor.

Make a bouquet garni:
You don't have to do this, but it imparts the flavor without getting the stemmy bits of the herbs all through the soup and then in your boca. Gather the bay leaves, thyme, and rosemary and either tie them together with butcher's twine or put them in a little cheesecloth bag - you can buy those at fancier grocery stores. Set aside.

Make a roux:
Mix the flour, cardamom, nutmeg and coriander in a small dish. In the bottom of a big soup pot, fry the bacon pieces until crispy and then remove. If you use regular bacon, dump the grease. Melt two tablespoons of butter over low heat, then add the flour mix, whisking constantly. When the flour and butter are incorporated and you can smell a nice nutty smell, start adding some broth a little at a time and stirring constantly. Keep this up until you have about a cup of thick broth-y goodness.

Make the soup:
Dump the par-roasted veggies into the roux and stir to coat. Add enough broth to cover the vegetables. Add salt and pepper to taste, and stir everything up. Turn up the heat, drop in the bouquet garni, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are of a desired tenderness. Take out the bouquet garnis and serve with some crusty bread.


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