RECIPE: Alphabet Soup with Roasted Winter Vegetables

By Tom Liddy on December 31, 2012 1:45pm 

NEW YORK CITY — How do you spell delicious?

Alphabet soup is a classic dish for kids a cold winter day, but this recipe takes the traditional recipe to a whole new level with homemade goodness that you can't get out of a can.

The base of the hearty soup, which is blended to a velvety finish, combines bacon with fire-roasted tomatoes for a smoky flavor along with a hint of garlic.

Bolstering the soup are roasted carrots, parsnips and turnips, winter vegetables that are packed with nutrients such as fiber and vitamins A and C.

While the veggies could be diced and just tossed in the simmering soup, roasting them brings out their natural sweetness, giving them a caramelized taste.

Oh, and then there is the alphabet pasta.  While it's hard to find in stores in the city, some Whole Foods stores carry Eden Foods Vegetable Alphabets, a fun mix of mutlicolored letters and numbers that are made from vegetables and wheat. 

Kids will love to take the pasta and spell out words on top of the soup and they'll like eating it even better.

INGREDIENTS:

1 28 oz. can of fire-roasted crushed tomatoes (regular crushed tomatoes are fine too)

1 1/4 inch thick slab of bacon (have the butcher cut it for you or just grab something close), cut into small dice

2-3 cups of chicken stock (homemade is better)

2 large carrots, diced

1 turnip, diced

1 large parsnip, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

Sprig of fresh rosemary and oregano

Olive oil

Light cream

Couple of sprigs of parsley minced, for color

Box of Alphabet pasta (a little will go a long way)

Salt and Pepper

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Take two thirds of the carrot, parsnip and turnip and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over the top, season with salt and pepper, mix together and place in the oven. Roast for 30-45 minutes, or until the edges are browned and a sharp knife passes easily through them.

3. Meanwhile, make a cup of the alphabet pasta by following the instructions on the box and set aside.

4. Heat a large pot on the stove on medium low heat and sautee the bacon until it is crisp. The lower heat will prevent the bacon and the brown bits that form at the bottom of the pot, which flavor the soup, from burning.

5. Pour off the excess fat, leaving about a teaspoon.

6. Add the onions and celery as well as the rest of the root vegetables and sweat for three minutes, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.

7. Add the tomatoes, herbs and stock and let the mixture come to a boil. Then simmer on low for 10-15 minutes, allowing the flavors to combine.

8. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes and then blend the soup in batches until smooth. The mixture should be thick, but add more stock if necessary to thin the soup out. (Blending hot liquids is dangerous. Fill only about two-thirds of the way. Hold the lid on firmly using a towel to protect your hand. Tilt the center cap open so that gasses can escape, but the liquid stays inside. Pulse gently at first to avoid the cap being blown off.)

9. Return to the pot and add a swirl of cream as well as the roasted root vegetables. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

10. Serve in a bowl and put a couple of spoonfuls of the alphabet past on top.

11. Dig in.

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