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Winter Vegetable Soup

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What better way to spend a snow day than cooking? That was my day when the first storm of 2018 rolled in on January 4. At 6 a.m., there was no snow, but my plans for the day were sealed when I got the notification of no school. It also gave me a way to use the turnips, rutabaga, butternut squash, carrots and leeks that I had received over the course of several deliveries from Field Goods.

In case you missed its introduction in the late summer, Field Goods offers fresh local produce, delivered to Verona from farms in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut thanks to a program with Sustainable Verona, a town committee devoted to making Verona “greener”. Similar to the community-supported agriculture (CSA) model, the Field Goods delivery is subscription based, but the fact that it delivers makes it that much more user friendly to this online grocery shopper, making the farm to table expression that much more appealing. 

According to Field Goods, since inception, about 100 customers have joined. Sustainable Verona was the first sustainable partnership with Field Goods in Essex County. For those who take advantage of this program, there are two pick up locations in town, the Verona Community Center and Verona Yoga.  While the community center is a logical choice, Verona Yoga co-owner Lisa Munjack says it got involved because “as small business owners we love their mission of supporting family farms.  We also love the fact that they supply healthy foods and recipes, introducing us to food that we might otherwise never purchase ourselves.”

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Back to the root vegetables. My only experience with turnips was years of hearing my mother say that she loved to make them for Christmas dinner (pureed) even though no one else ate them. A fun turnip fact is that they were the original vegetable for jack-o-lanterns before pumpkins. I have never cooked a turnip, although I am sure that one Christmas I ate pureed turnips.

Rutabagas were even more of an anomaly for me. Never cooked one, or eaten one, and I have no fun facts. But everything else involved was familiar and welcome. The only thing I had to confirm was that these “foreign” vegetables–which can also be found in grocery stores if you do some looking–could be sautéed as part of the cooking process. Logic said yes, but I checked online first to be sure. It was going to be a key component to flavor vs. vegetable mush.

My intention was to cook this in the slow cooker and bring back my Crock It! series, but I was making dinner in there so I had to go with the stove. It could easily be done in a slow cooker if you have the time and it’s not otherwise occupied as mine was that day. Stick with sautéing the vegetables first and then just transfer to the slow cooker and add the broth, cover and cook on high for two to three hours.

Ingredients:

1 large rutabaga

2 small to medium turnips

2 large leeks (white part only)

1/2 large butternut squash

1 32-ounce box of chicken stock plus more for thinning

1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil

1/2 tablespoon dried thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

What’s Next:

Peel all of the vegetables and then cut them up into relatively large chunks. They don’t have to be all exactly the same size, but should be close in order to have them all softened at the same time.

In a large Dutch oven, add vegetable oil (I used avocado oil) and heat.

Add peeled and cut vegetables and start to sauté.

Allow vegetables to brown just a little bit- the point of the sauté is to get flavor from them.

Generously add salt, pepper and dried thyme and stir every 5-7 minutes.

When lightly browned, add the box of chicken stock–it should cover the vegetable about half way.

Cover the pot and cook on medium to low heat for about 35-40 minutes until vegetables are soft.

Remove from heat and in small batches puree in a food processor. The soup will be thick, but that’s ok.

Once pureed, return to Dutch oven and heat, adding 1-2 cups more broth depending on how thick you like your soup.

Season soup with salt and pepper to taste.

Notes from my experience:

The pictures all show three turnips, but I think in the end that was one too many as the flavor seemed to overwhelm the soup, so just go with two.

This soup would be great with a grilled ham and cheese.

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