This is my favorite soup in the whole world, and that’s probably because my mom makes it. Not only does she make it, she invented the recipe (at least that’s the way it goes in my head). My mom doesn’t often cook very elaborated meals, but when she gets behind the stove she masters everything she prepares to perfection and puts so much love and care into every gesture that you feel it when you taste the food. Heartwarming, loving, authentic and soulful cuisine. Just my kind! She has transmitted a lot of those cooking values to me over time, though we do remain very different in the kitchen: she takes her time, cuts everything up delicately, doesn’t mind assisting rather than controlling kitchen operations, keeps everything nice and clean and can’t stand to touch meat or fish; I on the other hand enjoy being in charge in the kitchen, like to be quick and efficient, won’t back down faced with a big chunk of bloody red meat or an entire fish to carve, make a mess and drop things. Though more and more I’m becoming allergic to the sight of a messy kitchen and have even noticed that I tend to wash the dishes as I go along. Yikes.
While making this soup, the delightful smell of hearty root vegetables, the familiar scent of spices and the warm, simmering broth reminded me of home and made me feel like I was in my kitchen in Paris on a Sunday evening casually making soup with my mom. The bright red, almost fuchsia color of this soup is incredibly fascinating and it’s what makes its uniqueness. It’s not your smooth and delicate velouté; it’s thick, chunky and will keep you warm and comforted on a cold day or pick you up after a long day at work. But the most delicious part is the pinch of cinnamon: cinnamon in soup?? Yes dear friend, trust me it works wonders with the sweetness of the carrots and beets. The original recipe is very lightly tweaked since I added some celery, but I’m sure my mom won’t hold it against me.
Recipe: Red Root Vegetable Soup
2 raw beets
1/2 head of Napa Cabbage
1 black radish
1 large red onion
2 celery branches
4 cups (1 L) of organic vegetable broth (I use the brand Rapunzel)
3 tbsp of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
2 tsp of Ras-el-Hanout Morrocan Spice Blend
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot on low heat. Chop the onion and celery and add to the pot, stirring around for a few minutes until tender.
2. Peel the carrots, beets, turnip and black radish, chop them into large pieces and add them to the pot. Pour the organic vegetable broth over the vegetables until they are covered, add the cinnamon, Ras-el-Hanout and some freshly ground pepper. Do not add salt until the soup is finished because it will extract the essential vitamins and minerals from the vegetables, plus the broth already contains a certain level of saltiness.
3. Simmer the vegetables on low heat for about an hour or until they are soft and you can insert a knife through them. Slice the 1/2 head of Nappa Cabbage crosswise and add to the pot, pushing the cabbage down into the soup with a spoon. It will reduce as it cooks, you may need to proceed in several batches depending on the size of your pot. Simmer for 15 more minutes.
4. Using a hand blender or a regular blender, blend the soup. It should be thick, consistent and chunky. Add salt to taste and serve.