As the snow is flying for the first time this season, the cold weather begs for warming comfort foods. (I bet right now you are thinking of what those are to you....). The list is long here in Canada and usually involves roasting meats and veggies as well as bubbling stews, sauces and soups.
But what if you could morph a recipe (leftovers) into a whole new dish? You'd be saving on time and money (no food waste, less hydro) but not getting sick of those affordable ingredients that last through the winter. Here in Ontario, we have tons of options like squash, apples, potatoes, onions, carrots and parsnips. (Right now a 2-pound bag of carrots is just 97 cents at Giant Tiger!)
I was on a mission this fall: To remodel a root veggie recipe into two distinct ones, so that you can either make them separately, or use one to make the other.
My days as a French exchange student have influenced my curious culinary exploration. I went to learn a language, and I came back with a new culture - including their foods. I decided to say, "YES" to any offer or opportunity while I was living there. So every food presented, I tried. I didn't have to like it, but I wanted to discover EVERYTHING new. There are many foods and recipes I tried (that should be an upcoming blog post.....right?) but one that surprised me was a "simple" one. Carrot soup.
Yes, that's right. Carrot soup. When my host parent presented it as dinner one night, I thought so many negative things. This is too simple. It'll taste like mushed carrots. This is dinner? It's not going to be super filling. Oh god, I'm going to bed hungry tonight. It looked simple and orange. I couldn't tell what to expect from this undressed and unassuming dish. But, the YES commitment (and a hungry stomach after a very long day of lycée) got me to take my first spoonful on a wintry day in Normandy. Oh my did it hit the spot and sooooo delicious. I had never imagined that it would be something I have craved for decades.
Fast forward to when this Canadian girl is budgeting her grocery dollars and revisits the amazing versatility of carrots. Buying carrots (not the baby cut ones) is a great way to have veggies on demand and very affordable. The health benefits (beta carotene --> vitamin A, fibre, vitamin K1, potassium, antioxidants) are well-known. Many people steam or roast them (and of course have them as a crunchy, raw snack). Yet carrot soup doesn't seem to be a popular item on most menus these days. And neither do parsnips - what I like to call carrot's cousin.
Parsnips are very similar to carrots and store just as well over winter months. These root veggies are just as delicious roasted or pureed as a side dish. Yet many people aren't as familiar with this amazing. Their nutrition is a perfect complement to carrots and includes a good source of vitamin C, K, folate and fibre.
So how do you make a gateway to a new ingredient? You pair it with something you are already familiar with! (Trust me, my kid wouldn't eat anything if it wasn't paired with ketchup for almost 2 years!!! You have to do what you have to do!).
I wanted to develop a recipe that used local, long-lasting vegetables which could be remodeled into a different recipe, if needed/wanted. The result: Rosemary Roasted Carrots & Parsnips (recipe #1) + Carrot & Parsnip Soup (recipe #2 with several variations).
The idea is to make roasted carrots & parsnips for a side (fantastic for holiday feasts) and to use your leftovers (if any) for a soup (freezable too). But if you want to skip the roasted veggies, you can just skip right to recipe #2 if you're craving a hot meal to slurp while you're out skating, snowshoeing or watching hockey at the local rink (hello puck parents!).
So without further ado, here's the Root Remodel Recipes to use to warm up your winter.
Roasted Rosemary Carrots & Parsnips
Makes 2 cups (4 small servings)
3 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tsp rosemary
4 small cloves garlic
1.5 lbs of carrots & parsnips combined (about 4 each)
Preheat oven to 425°F
Place olive oil and rosemary in a small dish.
Peel and chop for small cloves of garlic. Add to the olive oil bowl. Set aside.
Peel and chop carrots and parsnips into medallions or cubes. Spread out on a large baking sheet.
Drizzle olive oil and garlic on top of carrots and parsnips. Mix to coat.
Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven and cook for 20 to 28 minutes, until tender.
Curry - Add 1 tsp of curry powder instead of rosemary.
Cinnamon Brown Sugar -Replace rosemary with cinnamon or apple pie spice. Once cooked, toss with 2 tbsp each of brown sugar and butter.
Carrot & Parsnip Soup
Makes 4-6 cups (8-12 servings)
1.5 lbs carrots and parsnips (see recipe from above), peel and chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced (omit if using the above recipe first)
1-2 tsp rosemary (omit if using the above recipe first)
1 medium onion, chopped
4-6 cups (1 - 1.5L) broth (vegetable or chicken)
If using original recipe from above, place roasted carrots & parsnips in a blender with onions and broth. Blend well.
For thick soup, use 4 cups of broth. For thin soup, use 5-6 cups.
For smaller blenders/food processors, do this in smaller batches.
OR FROM SCRATCH
Place all ingredients (see variations below) in a saucepot and cook on high heat. After it turns to boil, turn heat down to medium heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until carrots and parsnips are tender.
Place soup in blender (or food processor) and blend well. To make it smoother, return to pot and continue to cook. Blend a second time.
Coconut Curry - Add 1 tsp of curry powder and reduce broth by one cup. After cooking, blend in one can of coconut milk.
Maple Bacon - Add 1 tbsp of maple syrup to the soup mix. Garnish with bacon bits on top of soup before serving.
Red Lentils - Add 1/2 cup of cooked lentils to soup mix before cooking. Pairs well with coconut curry variation (above).
Apple & Spice - Add 1 cup of apples (peeled, chopped) and 2 tsp of cinnamon before cooking.
Squash or Pumpkin - Replace carrots and/or parsnips with the same amount of squash or pumpkin. Add extra variations, if desired.