When it comes to cold weather in Minnesota (aka the frozen tundra), you need plenty of vegetable soup recipes in your back pocket.
Ones that are easy, hearty, and quick to make so you don’t have to be away from your pile of cozy blankets and latest Netflix binge for too long.
This root vegetable soup is all that and more. It’s full of texture, packed with nutrients and flavor, and really versatile when it comes to a kind of clean-out-the-veggies soup.
It uses a lot of shelf-stable root vegetables that are abundant in winter, and budget-friendly, for a hearty vegetarian dinner. And if you’re a fan of satisfying chunky vegetable soups, be sure to try our vegetable barley soup and our hearty green lentil soup, too!
What counts as a Root Vegetable?
Root vegetables are simply the underground plant parts that we eat, like carrots, potatoes, turnips, and more; they are the vegetables that grow in the ground.
Roasting root vegetables is a very common way to enjoy them, as the caramelization in the roasting process gives them a deep, sweet flavor. They can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, such as in this soup, in a vegetable bowl with tahini sauce, with pasta, and more!
While we are not roasting them in this soup, their flavor still comes out in the saute process, and they are so hearty and filling, that they make the perfect winter soup!
Ingredients You’ll Need
One thing you might notice right away is that this vegetable soup is made without tomatoes, the focus here is truly on the root vegetables. Feel free to adjust as you need to and make this soup with what you have – and love – to eat!
- Mirepoix: an evenly diced mixture of onion, celery, and carrots makes for the most wonderful soup base, and all three ingredients just so happen to be root vegetables, too!
- Garlic: but of course! Adding so much flavor to this soup.
- Parsnip: a root vegetable similar to a carrot but with a more unique flavor. It’s still sweet like a carrot, but a little spicier with more of a pepper flavor and an undertone of a licorice-like flavor. It can be overpowering, so start with a smaller amount if you’re unsure of its flavor.
- Yukon Gold Potatoes: I love using Yukon Gold potatoes for soups because of their thin, waxy skin that doesn’t require peeling, and that they hold up when simmered in soup, plus their creamy texture is *chef’s kiss*.
- Turnip: another root vegetable that may not seem as commonly used, turnips have a somewhat mild taste. They are slightly peppery with an earthy flavor. They are starchy, too.
- Leek: part of the onion family, they have a mild onion flavor that adds a little sweetness to the soup.
- Fresh Herbs: in goes rosemary and thyme to contribute to the warm, comforting flavor in this soup.
- Dried Herbs & Spices: a variety goes into the soup for added depth and flavor, including red pepper flakes, black pepper, white pepper, dried sage, and a bay leaf.
- Vegetable Broth or Stock: the liquid base of the soup; I highly recommend using it over water for added flavor!
- Kale: not technically a root vegetable, but kale is a hearty addition to this chunky soup. It adds texture, color, and loads of nutrients!
- Lemon: if a soup ever tastes meh, you probably need to add an acid (and/or salt!). A squeeze of fresh lemon juice in this finished soup totally levels up the flavors – it’s not to be skipped!
How to Make Winter Vegetable Soup
You’re going to love how easy this soup is to prepare! The longest part of the process will be preparing the root vegetables.
- Saute the mirepoix in olive oil; this is the first step in bringing out the flavor. Sweating these veggies deepens their flavor, so be sure to let them work their magic without stirring too frequently.
- Add garlic, then the spices. Next layer up – garlic and spices. Reminder to add a pinch of salt throughout, too!
- Stir in diced parsnip and potatoes. These heartier veggies go in now because they require a little longer to become tender. Don’t stir them too often to allow some caramelization.
- In goes the leek and turnip to saute for a couple of minutes.
- Now, add in vegetable stock and stir together until combined and bring to a simmer with a bay leaf until the veggies are tender. The time will vary depending on the size of your dice.
- Add the kale and allow it to wilt – which will only take a minute or two. Then add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Don’t forget to taste test before serving.
There are a few variations you can make to this soup recipe; it’s lovely as is and is also super versatile!
- Use an immersion blender to blend half or all of the soup if you prefer a smoother soup or just to change up the texture.
- Add heavy cream or coconut milk to make it creamier.
- Add a parmesan rind to the broth while simmering to give it a richer flavor. Alternatively, garnish with grated parmesan cheese.
- Garnish with croutons or chopped walnuts.
Tips for Success
Here are a few tips for recipe success, especially if working with root vegetables is a new venture for you.
- Peel Parsnips. They often have wax on the outside of them to keep them fresher longer at the grocery store. You can either peel it off as you would peel a carrot, or place the parsnip in hot water and rub off the wax with a towel before peeling.
- Turnips and Yukon Gold Potatoes do not require peeling.
- Dice the veggies evenly so they cook at the same rate. This is especially key for potatoes, parsnips, and turnips.
- Balance out overpowering veggies if you are adding additional items; veggies like fennel and parsnip can overpower the flavor of the soup if too many are added.
- Check the salt levels. This is important for any recipe, but soup recipes make it super easy to taste test throughout. I do recommend noting if you have vegetable stock or broth, as broth generally has added salt which will impact the amount you’ll add on your own.
- Lemon Juice! Don’t forget the squeeze of fresh lemon juice; this burst of acid really brightens up the soup. If you don’t have fresh lemon, use a small splash of apple cider vinegar or another vinegar.
Storage and Freezing
The beauty of this vegetable soup recipe without meat is that you can make it for meal prep, or freeze a batch for easy lunches and dinners.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container for 3-4 days in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop.
Do note, that this soup thickens as it sits, which means you’ll likely want to add additional vegetable stock or water when you reheat it.
To freeze, allow the soup to cool completely and place the soup in a freezer-safe container with room for expansion (I love Souper Cubes for easy storage). Freeze for up to 3 to 4 months.
Thaw in the microwave or on the stovetop, adding additional liquid as needed.
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!
Get the Recipe Hearty Root Vegetable Soup
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup yellow onion, diced
- 1 cup celery, diced (2 stalks)
- 1 cup carrot, diced (2-3 whole carrots)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup parsnip, diced (1 small)
- ½ pound Yukon gold potatoes, approximately 2
- ½ pound turnip, 1 medium
- 1 cup leek, sliced
- 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- Salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ¼ teaspoon dried rubbed sage
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 cups vegetable broth or stock
- 2 cups kale, chopped
- ½ lemon, freshly squeezed
- Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrot, and saute for 4-5 minutes. Add garlic, and continue to saute for 1 minute. Then add the rosemary, thyme, red pepper flakes, pepper, and sage, cook for 1 minute.
- Add parsnip and potato, and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes. Don’t stir too often so that they have a chance to caramelize. Add the turnip and leek, cooking for 2-3 minutes, then add vegetable broth and bring to a simmer with bay leaf.
- Keep uncovered and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the veggies are tender (depending on how small you cut them the time will vary). Be sure to add salt throughout, taste-testing to be sure you have the right amount. The potatoes will absorb quite a bit of salt, so you’ll likely add more than expected.
- With a few minutes left, add the kale and allow it to wilt. Remove the bay leaf and stir in a squeeze of lemon before serving. Optional: puree half of the soup with an immersion blender. Garnish with fresh parsley, croutons, or parmesan as desired.
- The soup will thicken as it cools or if stored in the fridge/freezer; add more broth or water when reheating to reach desired consistency.
- Add a parmesan rind for a richer flavor.
More Hearty Vegetable Soup Recipes
- Green Lentil and Vegetable Soup
- Vegetable and Barley Soup
- Creamy Vegetable Soup with Dumplings
- Mushroom Gnocchi Soup with Wild Rice
- 30-Minute Tortilla Soup
Need even more delicious soup ideas? Check out our collection of vegetarian soup recipes!