After the speed and busyness of the holiday season, I always look forward to sitting back with a warm bowl of goodness in the quiet cold of a January night. This recipe utilizes fall vegetables that have been stored in a cold pantry, waiting for their moment to launch you into the new decade. As a sweet-potato companion, trade those marshmallows for lemon and parsley, which offer an energetic lift during short days and cloudy weather. I prefer simmering dried beans with a healthy dose of fresh herbs over the canned variety. You can substitute with two cans, but why not give it a try? The broth is healthy and warm, and al dente beans have a delicate restaurant quality flavor.
Winter roots soup
1½ cup dried white navy beans, covered in boiling water and soaked for 2 hours
Fresh herbs tied with kitchen twine, ie. parsley, sage, thyme, oregano
5 cups homemade vegetable broth or water
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon neutral oil
2 large leeks, chopped
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes
2 medium sized turnips, peeled and chopped into 3/4 inch cubes
2 large parsnips, peeled and chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 - 1½ medium sized lemons
1 generous handful of parsley
½ teaspoon agave nectar
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large soup pot, add broth, soaked beans, herbs tied with twine, and salt. Bring to a slow gentle boil, and immediately lower. Make sure to avoid a rolling boil, which will cause the beans to split. Skim any brine that rises from the beans. Cover, and reduce heat to an easy simmer, mindful not to allow to boil under the lid. I find this takes some mindful cooking for about 10 minutes until I know they are simmering just right. Cook for about 40 minutes, until beans are tender but not yet al dente.
In a large skillet, heat the oil and add chopped leeks. Sauté until tender. Add remaining vegetables, and sauté over heat for about 8 minutes to develop flavor. Remove tied herbs from bean stock with a slotted spoon and add vegetables from skillet to the pot. Cook uncovered until vegetables and beans are nice and tender. Flavor the soup with salt, pepper and juice from half a lemon at a time to your taste. Add agave to balance. Turn soup off and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes, then rough chop the parsley and add to the pot. Do this at the very end, so that the parsley doesn’t cook and keeps its bright green, healthy color.