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Kitchen Matters

The Root of the Matter

These hearty comfort foods make the most of robust late-winter vegetables.

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Cold temperatures and blustery weather always conjure up a need for some filling and comforting soups and stews-invariably made with potatoes, carrots, and onions. Now don’t get me wrong, I love all three, use them constantly, and appreciate their nutritional contributions. But it’s always a good idea to expand your horizons and explore new notions, so I’m here to recommend a few less-familiar stalwarts that bring their own special flavors and contributions to the table.

Turnips

Turnips have been cultivated since at least the 15th century BC. Prized for their sweetness and versatility, these tender white globes with the colorful shoulders are packed with vitamin C. “Baby” varieties may present themselves in yellow, red, and orange flesh as well as white, and need not be peeled to be enjoyed. They may be eaten thinly sliced and raw, simmered in a stew, or steamed with aromatics for a simple side dish.

Rutabagas

Also known as Swedes and neeps, and occasionally misidentified as turnips, rutabagas are actually a cross between a turnip and a cabbage. They fall into the category of cruciferous vegetables, well known for their cancer-fighting properties. And like their relative the turnip, rutabagas are packed with vitamin C and fiber.

Parsnips

Don’t forget this sweeter but lesser-known cousin of the carrot. Greatly esteemed by the Romans, it was often accepted as part of the tribute paid to the Empire. Nowadays, it makes a welcome addition to a robust soup or succulent stew; and its antioxidants and fiber contribute mightily to upping the nutritional profile of any dish.

Smaller roots such as garlic, ginger, and scallions, bring an additional panoply of flavors and textures to soups and stews. Filling your pot with a generous assortment of these roots can fill your body with a multitude of health benefits as well as filling up your tummy with deliciousness.

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