Paula Recommends …Puree of Winter Vegetable Soup

As the colder temperatures of winter approach in many parts of the country, what could be more soothing than a pureed vegetable soup? This recipe offers a robust mix of root vegetables, herbs and a touch of ginger. Root vegetables are a wonderful source of vitamin B ~ an important player in helping to lower cancer risk. At Mission, we stress the importance of balance, variety and quality and this recipe delivers on all three. One of the ways to increase variety is to try a new food as least once a month. Kohlrabi anyone?

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
½ lb. leeks (1 large or 2 small), white and green parts sliced
½ lb. carrots (2 large), peeled and sliced
½ lb. kohlrabi, trimmed, peeled and diced
½ lb. turnips, peeled and diced
6 oz. potatoes (2 medium), peeled and diced
1 medium butternut squash, about 2 lbs, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, diced about the same size as the squash
1 ½ quarts water, chicken stock or vegetable stock (see note)
2 fat slices fresh ginger, peeled
1 bay leaf
Couple sprigs each of thyme and parsley
12 peppercorns
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1.  Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven.
2. Add the onion. Cook, stirring, until it begins to soften (about three minutes).
3. Add the leeks and a generous pinch of salt then cook, stirring often, until tender but not browned (about five more minutes).
4. Add the carrots, kohlrabi, turnips, potatoes and water or stock. Bring to a boil.
5. Meanwhile, wrap the ginger, bay leaf, thyme, parsley and peppercorns in cheesecloth. Tie them up to make a bouquet garni and add to the pot.
6. Add salt to taste (about 2 teaspoons), reduce the heat, cover and simmer one hour.
7. Remove the cheesecloth bag, and discard.
8. Blend the soup until smooth with an immersion blender, or in batches in a regular blender. (Do not put the top on tightly; Cover the top with a towel to prevent hot splashes.)
9. Pour the soup through a strainer into a bowl; press the soup through the strainer with the back of a ladle or with a pestle.
10. Return to the pot and heat through. Add lots of freshly ground pepper. Taste and adjust salt then serve.

Note: Finished soup will keep for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. Whisk before reheating.

Nutritional information: Makes about 6 servings. Per serving: 109 calories; 3 grams fat; 0 grams saturated fat; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 21 grams carbohydrate; 5 grams dietary fiber; 76 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 3 grams protein.