When I was a vegetarian, I discovered macrobiotic cooking and fell in love with root vegetables. I mean, how could you not? They are sweet and starchy and tasty and so satisfying. Also warms you up nicely in the depths of a NYC winter or on a chilly autumn day. According to Chinese medicine, root vegetables help “root” or ground us, build stamina, and are very nourishing to the spleen and stomach, which helps aid digestion - making this a lovely soup to eat when your tummy is in need of a break from all those heavy winter holiday meals. This is a wonderful simple, nourishing, sweet stew that also works great using pretty much any mixture of any root vegetables you may have on hand or love. I used a purple sweet potato in this so that is why the stew has a purple hue. Those can be a bit hard to find (but if you do find them I highly recommend trying them!) but nowadays you may see purple carrots popping up at the markets so get a bunch of those instead if you want the lovely color. So pretty. —Aria Alpert Adjani
extra-virgin olive oil
unsalted butter or coconut oil
large leeks (white part only) or 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
garlic cloves, minced
fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped
n a large pot, heat oil and butter over medium heat. Add leeks or onion, garlic, ginger, fennel, 1/2 tsp sea salt, red pepper flakes if using and stir well. Reduce flame a bit and sauté for about 5 minutes or until the leeks or onion soften. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and slowly cook until the mixture is soft and juicy, about 15 to 20 minutes. Check a few times and stir.
Add the root vegetables, thyme, bay leaf and kombu - raise heat to high and cook, stirring, for a few minutes. Pour in the filtered water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
In a small bowl mix the miso paste with some of the hot broth to make a slurry. Mix the miso slurry into the soup pot, stirring to combine. Taste, adding a TB more miso or a dash of sea salt to taste. Serve hot with a sprinkle of fresh thyme or parsley leaves on top