January is a time for healthy eating and making a fresh start. This winter vegetable soup utilizes the best produce of the season, root vegetables, bringing some much-needed color and warmth to these dark January days.
Looking around the markets this time of year, the rustic root vegetables take center stage. Piled high in all its muddy glory, I couldn’t resist picking some up to create a warm hearty meal. The added bonus is that these fresh vegetables are great for us. The plants have spent the summer months basking in the sun and soaking up all the nutrients from the soil, storing it in their roots for the winter. Now is the time for us to dig them up and enjoy the fruits of their labor.
I made some super easy gluten-free rolls to accompany the soup. They rise in the oven so there’s no waiting around for hours for them to proof. This makes them a little denser than your normal roll which is great for dipping into the soup!
Having gluten-free rolls with the soup makes the whole dish very good for inflammation sufferers. No gluten doing any harm, and the vegetables are softened and blended so they are very easy to digest. For these rolls, I replaced the refined sugar with honey which is much healthier and is all natural!
I start by preparing the vegetables. Leeks and celery are in season in many parts of the world, so I suggest using the whole “mirepoix”. This is the French word for diced onion, carrot, celery and leek, the classic base for soups and stocks. This adds a great fresh flavor but if you want to forgo this step, just use onion and add vegetable stock instead of water later on in the recipe.
It’s important to sweat these vegetables slowly so as not to color them which will ruin the bright orange look of the final soup and contribute bitter flavors which we don’t want. Once they are softened, which will take about ten minutes, add the root vegetables and sauté them to get them going. Then the water can be added and once everything is soft, the soup can be blended. It’s important not to cook the soup for too long, the longer the vegetables are cooking the more goodness and flavor will be lost in the vapor rising from the pan.
I season the soup once it is blended so I can get the flavor balance perfect. If it needs a little bit of acidity you can add some vinegar or lemon juice at the last minute but I found that this wasn’t necessary. The consistency can also be adjusted at this stage by adding more water if the soup is too thick. It shouldn’t be too thin if the instructions are followed, but if so, more vegetables can be cooked separately and then blended in to thicken it up.
I added the pumpkin seeds to this recipe as they give a lovely crunch in contrast to the creamy soup. Toasting them improves the crunch but also the flavor, adding a nutty note that works really well with the fresh allium flavor from the chives.
Making the rolls takes a little bit of time and effort but is really worth it. I’m sure you’ll agree when you pull the warm rolls out of the oven and experience that fresh baked aroma. I sprinkled sesame seeds on top for a bit of extra flavor and because they look great too. These could be substituted for other seeds or crushed nuts.
I hope you find the nutritional information useful. The nutritional content will vary based on the vegetables and other ingredients used of course but this provides a good guide. I’ve used olive oil rather than butter in the recipe as this is lower in saturated fat and is much better for inflammation sufferers, although animal fats are certainly still better for us than processed fats such as margarine.
The soup serves two generously and the recipe makes twelve rolls so there should be some left to snack on later. I hope you enjoy this winter warmer, and have a healthy and happy start to the new year.
For the Soup
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time 30 minutes
1 stick celery
1 butternut squash
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Water (to cover)
1 bay leaf
1 handful chives (finely sliced)
1 handful pumpkin seeds
Salt (to taste)
Black pepper (to taste)
Peel the carrot and onion and wash the celery and leek. Finely chop them all and sweat in the olive oil gently until softened but with no color.
Peel and chop the squash and sweet potato into rough cubes. Add them to the pan and sauté for a couple of minutes.
Add water to cover the vegetables and the bay leaf, and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer for around ten minutes until the root vegetables are soft all the way through.
Meanwhile toast the pumpkin seeds in a hot pan, tossing them so that they don’t burn, until evenly toasted.
Take the soup off the heat, remove the bay leaf, and blend in a food processor or with a stick blender until smooth.
Season with salt and black pepper and return to the heat for a couple of minutes. If you need to add more water to change the consistency do this now.
Serve in bowls with the chives and pumpkin seeds sprinkled on top.
For the rolls
Makes 12 rolls
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
3 1/2 cups (490 g) Gluten Free Bread Flour
3 teaspoons (8 g) instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon (3 g) salt
3 tablespoons (30 g) honey
1 cup (8 fluid ounces/230ml) warm water (about 95°F/35°C)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 egg (beaten, for egg wash)
1 handful sesame seeds
Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
Mix the yeast with a small amount of the warm water to activate it.
Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the yeast, water, honey, butter and egg and mix with an electric whisk (or hand whisk) or mixer with dough hook attached until fully combined.
Then knead the dough for a further five minutes. If doing this by hand, knead it on a lightly floured, clean work surface. The dough should come together and feel smooth.
Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for ten minutes. This will make the dough easier to work with.
Once it has firmed up, tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it into twelve pieces. You can use a dough scraper or a sharp knife.
Roll each piece against the work surface with the palm of your hand in a circular motion until it comes together into a tight ball.
Place the rolls onto a baking tray lined with oiled baking parchment. Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle over the sesame seeds.
Place in the oven for around 20 minutes or until golden brown and baked through.
If you want to know what foods will help you shape up and shed inches while providing natural cure to illnesses, then click here to check out the Best Foods That Rapidly Slim & Heal In 7 Days program.
Rick Kaselj, MS