This column combines two of my favorite things – leftovers and root vegetables.

I’ve written about this before, but one of my absolute favorite ways to cook is to open the refrigerator door, start pulling things out that might go together and create a soup, frittata, quesadilla, pasta, omelet, pizza or some other meal out of “there’s nothing to eat.”

And root vegetables? What can I say? They are packed with flavor, especially when roasted to bring out all of the sugars, and bursting with vitamins and minerals. Root vegetables speak of comfort in a way no other vegetables can.

In honor of two of my favorite things, I created the soup to actually include leftover root vegetables. It has almost zero fat, although the smooth, creamy texture satisfies the rich, full-flavored craving on the palate. If you don’t have leftover root vegetables, then just increase the time when they sweat in the pot.

This recipe is why I love leftovers. The end result looks nothing like the side of root vegetables we had for dinner a few nights ago. It’s quick, easy, cheap and best of all, yummy!

To puree this soup safely, work in batches, only filling the blender about two-thirds full. Be sure to leave the top open some so as not to create a vacuum or any pressure. Cover with a cloth before pulsing as gently as you can to start.

Once it’s going a little, you can leave the switch on and walk away, pureeing for a minute or two per batch. It should be very smooth without anything curdley or bumpy-looking when it’s done.

RISOTTO WITH ROASTED ROOT VEGETABLES

This meal is one my family requests often. We switch it up by adding different cheeses to the risotto or grated lemon or chopped herbs over the vegetables.

If you’d like to plan ahead for leftover root vegetables, double the recipe. You may need to increase the cooking time or use two baking sheets.

1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)

1/2 cup minced onion

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups Arborio rice, short grain white rice

1 cup white wine

7 cups low-salt chicken or vegetable stock

3/4 cup grated Parmegiano Regiano cheese

Melt butter in medium-sized stockpot over medium-high heat. Add minced onion and salt. When onions are translucent, add rice and stir. Add the wine and a third of the stock, and stir. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to add stock as needed.

It is not necessary to continually stir; just keep coming back to the pot to check the liquid level, stirring occasionally. Continue until all of the liquid is incorporated, about 20 to 30 minutes. When the rice is al dente, meaning that you can feel the tiniest crunch in the center of the grain, add the cheese. Serve immediately with the Roasted Root Vegetables (below).

Serves four to six.

ROASTED ROOT VEGETABLES

2 onions

3 carrots

2 parsnips

1 sweet potato

12 ounces mushrooms

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel the onions, carrots, parsnips and sweet potatoes. Cut all vegetables into large 1- to 11/2-inch chunks. Toss with oil, salt and pepper, and place on a baking sheet with short sides. Roast for 50 minutes and then add the mushrooms.

Roast for another 20 to 30 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender when pierced with a fork and beginning to brown on the edges.

Serves four to six.

ROOT VEGETABLE AND MUSHROOM SOUP

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 cups diced onions, about 2 medium onions

5 cups roasted root vegetables

1 teaspoon salt

Several grinds of fresh black pepper

6 cups low-salt vegetable or chicken broth

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups sliced button mushrooms

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large stockpot. Add the onions and sweat until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the cooked root vegetables, salt and pepper. Cook with the onions for a few minutes to heat and then add the broth. Bring to a simmer and simmer while the mushrooms are sauteing. In a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt and pepper, and saute until the mushrooms are cooked through, about 5 to 7 minutes. Set aside.

When the root vegetables have simmered in the broth for 30 minutes, remove from heat and puree, being careful to leave an opening for pressure to escape. Puree each batch for at least 1 to 2 minutes before transferring back to the pot. Add the mushrooms, making sure that you scrape any good brown bits off the bottom of the skillet.

Serves four to six.

 

Anne Mahle of Rockland is the author of “At Home, At Sea,” a recipe book about her experiences cooking aboard the family’s windjammer. She can be reached at: [email protected]