This chameleon-like soup changes its appearance and flavor profile depending on which root vegetables you decide to pair with the roasted garlic. The hefty dose of garlic gives the dish anti-inflammatory oomph and adds a wonderful flavor no matter what other guests come to the party. I’ve made this soup with potatoes and roasted carrots, with parsnips and sweet potato, and with potatoes and beets. All of these combinations work beautifully, so I’m pretty well convinced that the combination of roasted garlic and whatever root vegetables are on hand is almost foolproof. I’m looking forward to trying some peppery rutabagas or turnips in the mix next time.
When using carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, or beets, I recommend roasting the roots in the oven before adding them to the soup for a deeper flavor. If you’re pressed for time, it still tastes fine to chop the raw roots into 1/2 inch cubes and add them directly to the broth mixture on the stovetop. Just make sure to simmer until tender before adding the garlic and pureeing. I’ve written the recipe below for beets and red potatoes, which is what we received from our CSA this week — just substitute an equivalent amount of whatever root vegetables you like.
Roasted Garlic and Roots Soup
about 1 Tbsp olive oil
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
2-3 red potatoes, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
1 head garlic, roasted*
2 whole beets, roasted and chopped into 1/2-inch cubes (about 1 cup)**
(2 sprigs fresh rosemary)
(5-6 sprigs fresh thyme)
Optional: splash of Madeira wine
grated Parmesan cheese or plain yogurt
freshly cracked black pepper
*To roast the garlic: Without peeling, cut the whole head in half crosswise.
Drizzle the cut side of the garlic with olive oil and seal in a foil packet. Place the foil packet on a baking sheet and roast at 350 F for 35 minutes, until soft and slightly golden.
Let the garlic cool at least until comfortable to handle.
**To roast beets: Trim the root end and stem end of the beets, but do not peel. Drizzle with olive oil, and seal in a foil packet along with 2 sprigs of rosemary and 5-6 sprigs of fresh thyme.
Place the foil packet on a baking sheet (it can share a baking sheet with the roasting garlic) and roast at 350 F for 1 hour, until tender when pierced with a fork. Let cool until at least comfortable to handle.
For soup: Scrub the potatoes and then chop (without peeling) into 1/2-inch cubes. Put the chopped potatoes into a large soup pot and add chicken broth and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. Add a splash of Madeira wine, if using.
Using the tip of a knife, peel the beets by gently pushing the roasted skin right off the inner flesh. Chop the beets into 1/2-inch cubes and add them to the soup pot. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their papery wrapping and add to the soup pot. Heat the soup gently until hot throughout. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth.
Ladle into bowls and top with grated parmesan cheese or a dollop of plain yogurt, freshly cracked black pepper, and finely chopped fresh herbs.