it’s officially soup season! the weather has dropped below 10 degrees for two consecutive days and all i want to do is spend my days cooking over a warm stove. it marks the start of me finally embracing root vegetables, tea, and my least favourite, pants. even though you all know how much i hate winter, i can’t stop myself from getting excited about all of the new recipe ideas flowing through my mind and the prospect of spending time inside on more labour intensive food projects.
even though i love fresh tomatoes, summer fruit and colourful produce, i love the warmth that fall and winter veggies offer. root veggies are some of those foods that interest me so much because i always wonder who first found them and decided to eat them. it’s the same fascination i have with foods like shellfish and foods that aren’t so obviously edible. i’m also so interested in all of the different categorizations: parsnips and carrots are true root vegetables, because you’re eating the singular root of the plant, whereas potatoes are considered tubers (i hate that word), because one plant can yield multiple. then there are bulbs (onions and shallots that have fleshy mineral deposits), as well as ginger (which you would think is a root, but is actually a stem vegetable!), and beets, which are actually a root and somehow related to quinoa?! nuances aside, there are two things that these veggies have in common: 1) you can eat them from top to tail and 2) the tail part (the bulb, root, tuber, whatever) is the little carb and mineral deposit for the plant above, so it’s filled with tons of nutrients!
so where does a rutabaga fit in? a rutabaga is considered a brassicas vegetable, which is the same family of cauliflower, broccoli, turnips, cabbage and kale. i’m still confused to how they are related, and the more i read the more confusing it becomes, so for now i’ll leave that up to botanists (but i’ll revisit another time!). it was cultivated in the early part of the 17th century when a swiss botanist named casper bauhin crossed a cabbage with a turnip and got a rutabaga; it’s like a larger, sweeter turnip.
you’re probably thinking, this is an italian food blog and there’s nothing italian about a rutabaga; BUT the most italian way to be cooking is to cook with the seasons. that means embracing whatever the earth has to offer us and finding ways to make it delicious. you should never be buying a zucchini in the middle of january. instead, eat seasonably and get creative with the overlooked veggies that your area has to offer – in ontario that means rutabaga! i love to eat them roasted with maple syrup, or fried, but the best and heartiest way is to turn them into soup. filled with warm garlic and spices, and a touch of sweetness from ontario gala apples, then topped with spicy italian sausage, it’s the perfect fall/winter comfort food.
rutabaga, sweet potato & apple soup
*makes about 2 mason jars full
1 medium or two small white onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced (to yield a heaping tablespoon)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium sized rutabaga, peeled and cut into cubes
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
2 medium gala apples, peeled and cubed
1 teaspoon + pinch of smoked paprika
1 pinch crushed chilli flakes
1/3 cup heavy cream
4 cups vegetable stock
1 tablespoon maple syrup
kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
*crumbled cooked hot italian sausage, for topping if desired
heat oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium low heat and add onion and garlic. season with salt, pepper, chilli flakes and paprika and cook until fragrant, about 5 minutes. (do not let onions and garlic brown, turn heat down if beginning to take colour). add cubed rutabaga, sweet potato and apple, season with salt and pepper and stir. add stock and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until rutabaga is tender, about 25 minutes.
remove from heat and pour into a food processor. add maple syrup and blend until combined. add heavy cream while motor is running in a steady stream through the opening at the top. blend for an additional 10 seconds. add back to pot warm through before serving (do not let it come to a boil).
spoon into bowls and serve with crumbled spicy italian sausage. can be stored in a mason jar or airtight container for up to 4 days.