Root Soup

Ah, October. With evening lows down in the 40s and daily highs in the 70s, October can’t quite decide if it wants to woo you with its beautiful fall colors or peeve you with its indecisive weather. If you’re not an Arkansas native, this flip-flopping weather can leave you overdressed, underdressed, confused, annoyed and even sick. Even we natives occasionally fall prey to October’s sore throats, sinus infections and sniffles – yours truly included. And this season, as a special added bonus, we also have H1N1 (aka “El Swine,” “Hog Fever” and “Pigitis”) to look forward to. Oink, oink.

Baby Veggies

To tend to my stuffy head, I made a huge pot of soup this weekend from some of the gnarliest, cutest root vegetables I got at the Fayetteville Farmers’ Market. My loot included sweet baby carrots, small sweet potatoes and yellow fingerling potatoes (OK, now I know potatoes are technically not roots, but rather “tubers.” Just go with me on this one.) To add a sinus-clearing kick to my soup, I doctored it with some Moroccan-inspired spices, like ground ginger, cinnamon, cumin and turmeric – and plenty of cayenne pepper, of course.

Instead of simply boiling the vegetables in broth to soften them, I roasted them in the oven with the spices for about an hour to impart a deeper, richer flavor to the soup. I then added them to a mixture of chicken stock and vegetable stock (for you vegheads out there, feel free to use only vegetable stock), brought it all to a boil, and then let it simmer for about a half an hour. The roasted spices blended right into the stock, giving it lots of flavor.

Moroccan Spices

For finishing touches, I added some cream off the heat and used my handy immersion blender to make the soup smooth and silky. You can also use a food processor for this step, although be careful of filling it too full and splattering hot soup all over yourself and your counter. If you like your soup chunky, just remove about 1/3 of the vegetables before blending, and add them back into the pot afterward.

I’ve been eating this soup for lunch since Sunday, and I must say it gets better and better each day. The smoky, spicy flavors mixed with the creamy, comforting texture are slowly getting my nose and throat back to normal. At least, I like to think so. Enjoy!

Moroccan Spiced Root Soup

2 lb. mixture of carrots, sweet potatoes
and potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ chunks
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
8 c. chicken stock, vegetable stock, or a combination
1 c. heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
cilantro for topping

Ready for Stock

Preheat the oven to 400°. Toss the cut vegetables with the spices (cinnamon through cloves) and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to coat the vegetables in the spices. Roast the vegetables in the oven for about an hour, turning twice, until softened and beginning to brown.

In a large stock pot, sauté the onion and garlic in the other tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat until softened but not browned. Add the roasted vegetables and stir to combine. Add the stock, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the soup, covered, for about half an hour.

Off the heat, stir in the cream and blend the soup to a smooth texture using an immersion blender or food processor. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Laura Hobbs is a guest contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. Born and raised in Fayetteville, Laura is a self-proclaimed foodie and avid cook. For more of Laura’s contributions, visit her author page.