A few winters ago we regularly potlucked and played poker with a group of friends. We drank beer, savored an array of delicacies, and then gambled our little hearts out. If you got lucky you might have left with $17 or so in small change in your pocket.
I made this soup over and over again for those parties because we all loved it, but when the poker nights fizzled after a few seasons so did the soup. I stopped making it. I must have felt that it went well with a game of poker, end of story. Recently I came to my senses and realized it would go just as well with Scrabble or Sudoku. Actually, forget about eating and Sudoku, not the most relaxing game I’ve ever played. On the brink of success, Sudoku will grab you by the neck and wring it. So to speak. Not good for digestion.
This seasonal soup uses just about any winter vegetable you like, especially roots: potatoes of any kind, turnips, parsnips, garlic, onions, shallots, leeks, carrots. And then there are the non-roots: cabbage, kale, chard, squash and whatever else suits your fancy, including fish or chicken.
This makes enough for 6 or 7 servings.
Curried Root Soup Recipe
Use any combination of winter vegetables you like, vary amounts according to availability and taste – the following list is a guide. It’s wonderful with just leeks, potatoes and chicken, for example, and it’s fast.
Ingredients: 7 or 8 C of liquid can be chicken, fish or vegetable stock, and/or some water/ 1, 12 oz. can canned tomatoes/ 4 T vegetable oil/ 1 onion, chopped, 8 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole/ 1, 3-inch piece of lemon grass, left whole/ 3 medium carrots, cubed/ 1 sweet potato, cubed/ 2 or 3 medium potatoes, cubed/ 2 small or 1 medium parsnip, cubed/ 1 turnip, cubed/ 2 C kale or cabbage, shredded/ 2 – 3 t curry powder or 1/2 t red or green Thai curry paste, 2 t salt (to taste), 1/2 t pepper, plus other optional spices: 2 t turmeric, 1/2 t red pepper flakes or 2 t finely chopped jalapeno/ 1, 12 oz. can coconut milk (optional)/ Definitely adjust quantity of flavorings to suit your own taste/ Optional: add 2 C of uncooked chicken or fish, cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
Cubed, for me, means cutting up vegetables into a relatively consistent size. I don ‘t spend a lot of time making actual perfect cubes. When I can afford a sous-chef I might demand perfect cubes, but I doubt it.
Directions: Assemble ingredients, chop vegetables/ Place olive or vegetable oil in a large soup pot/ Sauté onion and garlic together for 3 minutes/ Add chopped vegetables, saving cabbage and kale for later/ Sauté together, stirring often/ Add all seasonings, stir together, cook for just a minute and then add all stock including canned tomatoes/ Bring to a simmer and cook, lid on, for 20 minutes/ Add kale and cook for another 10 minutes/ Test veggies, cook longer if needed/ Add coconut milk, taste, adjust seasoning, reheat/ Remove and discard piece of lemon grass/ Let the games begin.
Note: If you’re adding small pieces of diced raw chicken or fish, add chicken 15 minutes into cooking and cook for 10 – 15 minutes; add fish near the end and cook for only 5 or 6 minutes. We had this the other snowy night with salmon from Loki Fish. The tender veggies, the creamy curry broth and small bites of salmon throughout . . . it was delicious.
After the chopping, this is actually a fast meal. Ready in about 30 minutes, it might be Oscar night worthy. Make it ahead, let it sit, it just gets better.