Kevin Gillespie’s Root Vegetable Soup

Last summer Top Chef Kevin Gillespie came to our co-op because he was hosting a video series sponsored by Stronger Together, being filmed for the International Year of Cooperatives.  Our co-op was chosen to take part in the series because of our involvement with our community.  He attended our summer party and visited Heritage Lane Farm, Misty Meadows Farm and Bellingham Urban Garden Syndicate (BUGS) to talk about their relationship with our co-op and our community.

Kevin Gillespie 7.31.11Before he left town, I got to go out to dinner with him and the film crew and we talked a lot about food (of course!) as well as his upcoming (and now published) cookbook Fire in my Belly.  It’s a great read – lots of photos, a fun layout, and anecdotes from the author.  He told me I could demo any of his recipes any time and with the icy fog abounding in our region, I thought his Root Vegetable Soup recipe would be just about perfect for my recipe demo this week.

© 2013 Community Food Co-op

© 2013 Community Food Co-op

This is a recipe he created based on a dish his grandma used to make.  It is very simple to make, although it does require some knife skills as all the veggies need to be cut into the same size pieces to cook correctly.  I must admit that it was my first time preparing some of the root vegetables in this dish, and it was also a great excuse to use some of the delicious local produce we still have in stock (organic Jerusalem Artichokes, aka sunchokes, from Rabbit Fields Farm in Everson).  The recipe calls for turnip greens, which we do carry occasionally but are out of currently, so I substituted collard greens.  Other than that I was pretty true to the original recipe, except for cutting it down to 4 servings (you can find the original recipe for 8 servings in Kevin’s book).

ChiffonadeOne of my favorite cutting techniques is chiffonade – you roll your leafy greens into a roll and cut thin little ribbons.  They are so pretty and you can cut through a pile of greens in no time.  As for cutting the various root vegetables into a small dice, you will have to expect some waste as you first have to square off the edges of the veggies so you are left with flat edges to cut your dice from.  If you need a little guidance for safe and effective cutting techniques, you can check out the video and photos at Stella Culinary.

Root Vegetable Soup © 2013 Community Food Co-op

Root Vegetable Soup © 2013 Community Food Co-op

Root Vegetable Soup

adapted from Fire in my Belly by Kevin Gillespie with David Joachim, used with permission


  • 4 oz Pancetta or unsmoked bacon, diced into 1/4” pieces (vegetarian option below)
  • 1 1/4 c onion, diced 1/4”
  • 2/3 c rutabaga, peeled and diced 1/4”
  • 1/2 c celery, diced 1/4”
  • 1/3 c carrots, peeled and diced 1/4”
  • 3/4 c sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichoke), peeled and diced 1/4”
  • 3/4 c turnips, peeled and diced 1/4”
  • 1/2 c parsnip, peeled and diced 1/4”
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced (a mandolin works great for this task)
  • 3 c chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
  • 1/2 pepper
  • 1 t sea salt
  • ~ 2 c Turnip greens or Collard greens, sliced into chiffonade (thin strips)
  • Juice from one lemon


  • ~1/8 c Italian parsley, minced
  • ~1/8 c chives, very thinly sliced
  • ~1/8 c celery leaves, minced


  1. Heat a large enameled cast-iron pot or other soup pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the pancetta, stir, and cook until the pancetta is golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Add the onions, rutabaga, celery, and carrots and cook until the vegetables start to soften and the onions become translucent, about 6 minutes, stirring now and then.
  4. Add the sunchokes, turnips, and parsnips and cook for an additional 8 minutes, stirring a few times.
  5. Stir in the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  6. Stir in the chicken stock, pepper, and salt.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then cut the heat down to low, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.  The vegetables should be just tender.
  7. Remove the pot from the heat, and stir in the turnip greens and about 1 T lemon juice.  Taste and season as needed with additional salt and lemon juice.
  8. Ladle into bowls and garnish with the parsley, chives, and celery leaves.

Tips from the Top Chef:

  • Don’t be tempted to mince the garlic here.  It should be sliced. If you mince it, the small pieces will cook faster and develop a bitter taste.  The slices also contribute to the texture of the soup.
  • If you want to make the soup ahead, prepare it up to the point of simmering the vegetables in the seasoned stock.  Cool it down, and refrigerate it for up to 2 days.  Then reheat the soup and add the greens and lemon juice just before serving and garnishing.
  • If you don’t have the root vegetables listed, then you can substitute with what you do have.  The most important thing is to dice all the vegetables the same size so they cook quickly and evenly before the liquid is added.  The vegetables retain better shape and flavor this way.

Root Vegetable Soup PDF

For a vegetarian version, use vegetable stock in place of chicken stock; sauté 4-5 shiitake mushrooms (cut into thin slices about a 1/4″ wide) over medium heat in 1-2 T butter or a fatty oil until they are soft, about 7 minutes, and proceed with the rest of the recipe.  Alternately you can use vegetarian bacon, prepared and cooked just like the pancetta in the recipe.  Neither will give you the same rich flavor of the pork, but either should add some umami to the dish.

Gazpacho (made with all local ingredients!)

For this week’s recipe, I wanted to try to make something that used as many local products as possible. Another major part of my criteria was to make something that required little (or no) time to cook because it is decidedly summer in the Northwest right now (better late than never!).

There is so much local produce available right now – I toured the Produce department and found no less than 35 different items that were grown (and brought to us farmer direct) from Whatcom County farms.; I settled on creating a recipe for Gazpacho – a chilled vegetable soup that originates in Spain. There is no cooking involved and it is quick and easy. I’ve never made it before, but that didn’t stop me!

I started with gorgeous organic tomatoes, an organic English cucumber, and organic basil from the Growing Garden in Bellingham (grown by our own long-time Board member Brent Harrison).; Organic red garlic came from Rabbit Fields Farm in Everson.; I rounded it out with some extra virgin olive oil (pesticide-free) from Bija that is bottled in Lynden and Bellewood Acres apple cider vinegar, also made in Lynden from local apples. A little Himalayan pink sea salt from Salt Works in Woodenville (the farthest away of my ingredients – they process the salt in-state). I did put some ground black pepper in the soup as well, which isn’t local, but I won’t tell if you don’t!

Tomatoes are in season right now, so while I did peel them, I didn’t bother de-seeding them – the seeds in fresh in-season tomatoes are generally soft and not as bitter as off-season tomatoes.; Other than that, you basically chop your ingredients up, throw them in the food processor, and let them chill in the fridge until you are ready to eat. The longer you can let it chill, the more complex the flavor becomes.  Fumar con fruición!

Gazpacho in a cucumber cup © Sassy Sampler 2011



  • 6 large tomatoes, peeled and rough cut
  • 1 large English cucumber
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4-6 large leaves of basil, chopped
  • 1 T Apple Cider Vinegar (Bellewood Acres)
  • 1-2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil (BIJA)
  • 1/2 t sea salt (SaltWorks)
  • Black pepper


  1. Add your cucumber to food processor and process until only a few small pieces remain.Pour cucumber purée into a large bowl.
  2. Add the tomatoes to the food processor and process until only a few chunks remain. Add to cucumber purée and stir to combine.
  3. Add the minced garlic and about 4 leaves of chopped basil to the purée. Add sea salt.
  4. Add olive oil and cider vinegar. Add pepper to taste and mix well.
  5. Cover bowl and refrigerate until you are ready to serve. The longer it sits in the fridge, the better the flavors will have combined.
  6. Serve ice-cold with a sliced and toasted baguette (Against the Grain Gourmet makes a great GF baguette). Garnish with more chopped basil before serving.

If the tomatoes you are using are out of season, you may want to remove the seeds either before you purée the tomatoes, or strain the tomato purée after processing. If they are in season, chances are you won’t have to take this step.

All ingredients in this recipe were either grown or processed locally (in Whatcom County or WA State, in-season), with the exception of the black pepper.

Gazpacho PDF

Black Bean Vegetable Soup

Now that it is October, my mind has focused on fall recipes.  My husband has already made the first crock pot roast of the season, and I bought a beautiful organic chicken to make French Chicken in a Pot this weekend.

For my demo this Friday, I knew that it would be an overcast day, so I couldn’t resist putting together a pot of soup.  I wanted to find a recipe that would be easy, yet still use some of the local produce that we have coming in (the carrots, garlic, and onion were all local).  I found a good base recipe on and went from there.  While I was preparing it I made a few tweaks to the recipe and voilà, I had a delicious black bean soup all ready for sampling!

This recipe uses canned beans, corn and tomatoes.  You could absolutely soak some dry beans overnight and use those instead, but part of the beauty of this recipe is that you can make the whole thing in an hour and it tastes like it took all day.  I used Field Day Organic Black Beans, Westbrae Organic Yellow Corn, and Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes (who has a pretty fantastic website).  I also used Imagine Organic Vegetable Stock, but be aware that if you are gluten-intolerant, you may want to use another brand – although there are no gluten containing ingredients in this stock, it is not certified gluten-free like their broths are.

I feel stock tends to be richer in flavor because the ingredients are concentrated.  Stock vs. broth seems to be debatable however, as I found out when I went online to see if there was a definable difference – some cooks/cookbooks feel there is no difference, and some feel that vegetable stock doesn’t exist because a stock is historically meat based and made with the bones (see video for difference as defined by Rouxbe cooking school).  You know your own palette, so make the best decision for your personal tastes!

This was one of my most popular demos – I gave out the most recipes of any demo, and the giant pot I made was gone before the customers were.  I guess shoppers really were ready for some soup!  Get creative with veggie substitutions – I’m always a big proponent of using what you have on hand!

Black Bean Vegetable Soup Photo © 2010 Sassy Sampler

Black Bean Vegetable Soup


1 T olive oil (or other healthy fat)

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 carrots, chopped thinly

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

2 t chili powder (or more, to taste)

1 t ground cumin

2 1/2—4 c vegetable (or chicken) stock (not broth)

3 15 oz. cans of black beans, drained

1 can of whole kernel corn, drained

1 (14.5 oz) can fire roasted tomatoes

Black pepper to taste


1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.

2. Cook onion, garlic, carrots, bell pepper, and celery, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until onion is just softened.

3. Add chili powder and cumin; cook, stirring, for about a minute—until mixture is fragrant.

4. Add stock (start with 2 1/2—3 cups), one and a half cans of beans, corn, and black pepper.

5. Increase heat and bring to a boil.  Let simmer while you complete the following step.

6. In food processor or blender, combine tomatoes and remaining beans.  (This is also a good time to clean your cutting board and knife).  Add to the pot.  If necessary add (up to) the remaining broth until desired consistency is reached.

7. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for at least 15 minutes (or until carrots are tender).  For best results, simmer for up to an hour.

8. Remove from heat, add pepper to taste, and enjoy!


  • For a thinner soup, add up to 4 cups stock.  You can also decrease the beans to 2 cans.
  • You can use broth in this recipe, but the soup will not be as rich.  If you choose to use broth, increase the spices to compensate, and simmer for at least half an hour.
  • Rice is a nice addition to the soup.  If you choose to add a cup of rice (after step 7), then be aware that you may need to increase the amount of liquid in the soup or it will be very thick.
  • If you rough chop your veggies, you will need to increase the cooking time.
  • You shouldn’t need to add any salt to the recipe, as stock tends to have more salt already in it (compared to broth).
  • This can easily be made on a weeknight—chop your veggies thinly so they cook quickly—if you would like a heartier version, chop your veggies coarsely and cook longer.

Black Bean Vegetable Soup PDF

September Meal of the Month – Low-fat Lentil and Rice Soup

A new month means a new Meal of the Month recipe from our Member Affairs Committee (MAC)!  This month the recipe was contributed by Co-op member Nancy Steele – a tasty, naturally low-fat soup with fresh shiitakes, onions, lentils, and long-grain brown rice.

Tis the season – I was able to use local shiitakes, local criminis, local basil, WA yellow onions, and local garlic in my soup.  This recipe also has some pasta sauce in it, which I thought was an inventive use.  Nancy recommends using Classico Tomato and Pesto sauce, but I think if you already have some in your fridge, whatever you have will work.  I used Rising Moon Tomato/Basil pasta sauce (because we don’t carry the Classico brand at our stores anymore) and it turned out real nice, and was vegan to boot!

Soups are great because you can always add to them over the week (especially with a recipe this large).  Everyone who tried the soup really liked it, and some additions were suggested by customers, including adding lamb meatballs, sausage, vegetarian sausage, tofu, and  hot peppers.  Any of these would be great, and would change the flavor profile enough so you wouldn’t get tired of the leftovers!


Low-fat Lentil and Rice Soup Photo © 2010 Sassy Sampler

September Meal of the Month

Low-Fat Lentil & Rice Soup


1 –2 T Extra-virgin olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped

Salt and pepper

3 –4 large garlic cloves, minced or chopped

1/2 lb shiitake (or crimini) mushrooms, sliced

Large handful of fresh basil, chopped

1 t dried oregano

1/4 t hot red chili flakes (or more to taste)

1 T ground cumin

2 t curry powder

1 1/2 c organic lentils

1 c long grain brown rice, rinsed

10 c water

1/2—1 c Pasta Sauce (Tomato Pesto/Basil)

1/3 c red wine

2 t sugar

2 T brown rice syrup

1 T brown rice vinegar

1 bay leaf


1. In large stockpot, sauté chopped onion in olive oil over medium-low heat until the onion becomes opaque.

2. Add  garlic, shiitakes, and basil.

3. Sauté for several minutes, then add oregano, salt/pepper (to taste), chili flakes, cumin, and curry powder.  Stir well.

4. Turn heat up to medium and stir in lentils.  Continue stirring for 5 minutes, making sure lentils are well coated with the oil/herb/spice mixture.

5. Carefully add (uncooked) brown rice and stir until combined.

6. Stir in water, pasta sauce, red wine, sugar, brown rice syrup, rice vinegar and the bay leaf.

7. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cover, simmering for at least 40 minutes, or until rice and lentils are tender.

8. Remove bay leaf before serving.

Note:  The longer this soup cooks, the better it will taste!

LF Lentil and Rice Soup PDF

Soups that have spices in them will be even further enhanced if made the day before and reheated, although you may need to add more water if the rice and lentils have absorbed  most of the water.

Serve with Rosemary bread, naan bread, or the Swan Bakery’s GF Herb Rolls

Nancy Steele © 1996

One note – this may be our last Meal of the Month recipe.  The program has run for a year now, and is currently being reassessed by the MAC.  It may return in November as a slightly different, or possibly a completely different program.  If you have feedback you would like the MAC to have on the program, please forward it to Jean Rogers, the Co-op’s Board Administrator at  She can tell you when the next meeting is, or forward your comments/suggestion to the MAC!

Chilled (local) Cucumber Yogurt Soup

Spring has sprung, and that means more local produce is showing up every week.  Right now we have local, organic rhubarb, Napa cabbage, red mustard greens, asparagus (the only local organic asparagus that you can buy at any grocery store in town, I might add!), salad mix, and my favorite – English and Middle Eastern/Mediterranean cucumbers from local grower Dominion Organics.

I sampled the English cucumbers last week for customers, so this week I had to pay attention to the Mediterranean cucumbers – as I have stated in the past, they are my most favorite local produce item (well, until the honeycrisp apples start showing up from Bellewood!).

As I was surfing the web for recipes, I ran across a bunch of cold soup recipes.  I know, cold soup sounds really yummy, huh?  Most everyone has heard of gazpacho, but a plethora of chilled soup recipes exist out there, and I found a couple more that I will prepare and sample this summer as we get more local produce in stock.    Just like any soup, these recipes can have a large range of ingredients, so I looked for one that I knew could be made with all local products once the growing season really gets going (except the lemon and olive oil – we’ll never get those locally due to our climate!).

This soup would be great on a hot summer day because it really is refreshing (and soooo easy to make!).  The flavor profile is similar to mint raita (cucumber/yogurt condiment – see our January Meal of the Month recipe), and it has a little bite – followed by creamy smoothness.  One of the recipes I found suggested serving the soup with a garnish of raisins, which I though would be really strange, but they add a nice touch of sweet and added texture to the soup, though they may not appeal to everyone!

This is a (mostly) one-pot meal – all of your ingredients go straight into the blender or food processor.  The recipe I adapted (from indicated that you should use raw garlic, but that flavor doesn’t appeal to everyone, so I did blanch the garlic for about 45 seconds before I added it to the blender.  I used a 4 cup blender, and the soup came out to about 4 1/2 cups, so it just fit – any more ingredients and I would have had to make it in two batches.

I used the Greek Gods non-fat yogurt, but any yogurt will work – I will make it with the local Grace Harbor Farms yogurt next time.  You can also use English cucumbers, but I don’t recommend regular cucumbers for this recipe as the flavor is different and you would have to de-seed them first.

Chilled Cucumber Yogurt Soup Photo © 2010 Sassy Sampler

Chilled Cucumber Yogurt Soup


1 1/2 c yogurt

1/2 c sour cream

1 t olive oil

3 large Middle Eastern/Mediterranean  cucumbers, peeled and grated

1 T fresh lemon juice

1/2 bunch mint leaves, chopped (about 1 c)

1/2 bunch fresh dill, chopped (about 1/2 c)

2 cloves garlic, crushed and blanched (can also be used raw)

1/2 t salt (optional)

1/4 c raisins (optional)


1. Combine yogurt and sour cream in blender or food processor (fit with blade attachment)

2. Add olive oil and blend.

3. Add cucumber to blender/processor and  combine until smooth.

4. Add lemon juice and pulse to combine.

5. Add mint and dill, combine until smooth.

6. Add blanched garlic and combine until smooth.

7. Add salt if using.

8. Refrigerate soup after final blend, or serve immediately.

9. Serve garnished with about 1 T of raisins (if using), or leftover herbs.

This would be great served with lamb, or just some toasted pita bread.

To blanch garlic—

Heat a couple of cups of water in a small sauce pan until boiling.  Add crushed garlic cloves and allow to cook for about 45 seconds.  Remove garlic from water and let cool on cutting board.  This will mellow the heat of the garlic, and is not a necessary step if you are a raw garlic fan!