An Ode to the Underground Vegetables

Good morning, friends. It’s Saturday, dark outside and not too early. The sky is grey, Winter having arrived last night, just in time for my weekly trip to market. My writing room, The Condensery is cold. I’ve had a word with the radiator and settled in with a cup of jasmine tee to think about the wonders of root vegetables1. Tis the season.

Recently, I made Creamy Curried Lentil Soup2 and another night a pot filled with Beef Rouladen3 neither of which would have been any good at all without a colorful variety of underground vegetables. Lots of them.

Of which we sing when singing the wonders of underground veggies

There are the underground vegetables the ones which are the roots of plants. They are the ones with tails at one end Even though we traditionally only eat the roots, an old farmer at market once told me that of the vegetables whose roots we enjoy, we can eat also the greens. Meanwhile I am happy to see recipes for radish and carrot greens or ginger leaves making the rounds.

So, root vegetables are the likes of carrots, radishes, celerac (celery root), parsnips (parsley root), turnips, onions and the much loved potato4

And why are they so great?

Lets start with how they keep forever in the fridge. It ustabee that, are you ready for this? Root vegetables were kept in boxes of dirt or sand in the root cellar which may or may not have been located underneath the house.5

Let’s move on to their healthy, thickening properties. Root veggies have a lot of fiber and it holds up well to cooking and mashing. And butter, yep. Mashed root veggies served in a bowl with a pat of melting butter in the middle are a thing of beauty and great kindness. This feeds your body, your microbiome, and your soul.

Not only that, but if you add root veggies to your potatoes for cooking and mashing together, you reduce the calories a bit and increase the vitamin count. Add a little more liquid and slip into creamy soup territory. That’s a fine place to be and where I am going tonight for dinner.

How do you make mashed root vegetables (aka vegetable purée)?

Easy peasy. Cut them up small-ish and put them in a pot with some fat6. Sautee on medium heat until you start to see some browning.7 Add barely enough liquid to cover the veggies 8 and simmer until they are tender and done. Then, with a potato masher or an immersion blender if there are no potatoes in that pot, mash them to a thick pulpy mush. Add salt and pepper to taste and you are finished with your dinner, your side dish or your ingredient.

What can you use it for?

Side dish added to mashed potatoes or instead of. Soup: Thin out the final product with more stock and a dash of cream. Sprinkle fresh herbs on top Cake: Keep it moist and make it healthy. We’ll get into this more later. ^u0cbjf

How long can you keep it?

1 week in the fridge, 6 months in the freezer


  1. Tag: root_vegetables 

  2. Need a recipe, please. 

  3. Need a recipe here too, please. 

  4. The potato is not actually a root vegetable but it does grow underground and we do love them so I’m giving them a pass here so they can join the party. Because, what’s a party without a potato?? 

  5. Think Wizard of Oz. Dorothy’s Aunt took shelter in the root cellar. Dorothy, looking for Toto and fictional history was written. 

  6. Call it a tablespoon and you choose the fat based on what you have and what you like. I typically use butter or olive oil if my end goal is a vegetable soup and use [[animal fats]] (bacon , pork , chicken or even goose fat r(endered at Christmas and stored in the fridge/freezer if the purée is intended to thicken a meaty soup or gravy. 

  7. Call it 5 minutes. 

  8. Water, stock, milk (try 50% with 50% water).