Photo via iStock, AnnaPustynnikova

Recipes

Pandemic Pantry: Root Vegetable Soup

This rustic dish will warm your belly, and your heart.

I decided to do my once-weekly quarantine grocery shopping at Bonton Farms on Saturday. They are making the process easy by posting a list of foods available for order, so that you can call in or email your selections in advance, and they will have them bagged up and ready for curbside pick-up when you arrive. Well, that’s the plan. If you’re lucky, like me, you may have to wait awhile.

At first I stood in a line of three women, all appropriately socially distanced. I had left my phone in the car so I wouldn’t have to disinfect it yet again, and the day was gorgeous. So I just stood and soaked in the sun. The thirtysomething woman in front of me was soon summoned by a small head that poked itself out the window of a minivan parked down the block.

“Moooooom!” the tiny head shouted. “Can I tell you something?” “Yes,” she quietly mouthed in return. “[Jimmy or Timmy or Sam] is bothering me!” came the high-volume reply. I laughed.

“How many are there?” I asked. Turns out there were five kids waiting in the car, ranging in age from 2 to 15 or so. This was their first outing in two weeks, but she didn’t trust the kids out of the car. There had already been a fiasco earlier in the day at a park with accessible playground equipment.

The mom glanced over my shoulder at the trailhead for the Buckeye Trail. “The water is probably low,” she said to herself, eyeing the bridge across the ravine. “But they’d probably kill each other,” she muttered as she turned back to see how long it would be for her bags to be filled.

I walked around to the back of Bonton’s new Farmers Market shed to check out the vegetable beds, while I waited for the woman’s more urgent order to be filled. The brightly colored rows of rainbow chard, spring lettuces, and herbs were oblivious to the state of the world, thriving in the cool sunshine. A man named Matthew walked past on the other side of the fence.

“You’re like me, just out here enjoying the world,” he said. “Can I share my story with you?” I told him he could. He told me about being homeless and living under a bridge for more than a decade before he found God and this place. He didn’t understand the whole virus thing, but he was keeping his distance even though it hurt his heart. “We’re not meant to be apart like this,” he said as we walked off, shaking his head, to feed the goats.

When Theda Babcock had them ready, I gathered my bags of carrots, spinach, spring onions, sweet potatoes, eggs, pork chops, chuck roast, and parsley, and Danny George, the farm manager, walked out with me to my car. As I put the bags in the backseat, he brushed off a week’s worth of tree blossoms that had accumulated on the hood. “We’ll get through this,” he said, reaching out his arms for an imaginary hug. “This, too, shall pass.”

My favorite way to use up root vegetables is with this simple, versatile soup that comes from Melissa Clark at NYT Cooking. I tend to use carrots, sweet potatoes, and russet potatoes, but you can use whatever you have in surplus. Leftovers make for a fabulous weekday lunch. If you’ve been baking bread, cover a slice with some cheddar cheese and stick it under the broiler for a minute or two for an open-faced grilled cheese accompaniment.

Recipe

Root Vegetable Soup

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, diced
2 or 3 celery stalks, diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 rosemary or thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
3 1/2 pounds mixed root vegetables (any combination of carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, celery root, turnips, and rutabagas), peeled and cut into chunks
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon (optional)

Directions:

Melt butter in a large soup pot. Stir in onion and celery and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and herbs and cook for 1 minute more. Add root vegetables, 8 cups water, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

Remove and discard herb sprigs and bay leaves. Using an immersion blender or food processor, puree the soup until smooth. Season with lemon juice and salt to taste.

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