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Its really pretty adorable how clueless my husband can be sometimes.

Not the dumb kind of clueless, mind you. Without his smarts I am pretty sure that I’d have no idea who the current republican presidential candidates are, would never have known that the best way to stop coughing is to raise your hands high up in the air (try it!), and would have gone on thinking that FDR was best known for being a principal character in the musical Annie.

No, I am referring more to the “lost in his own little world” kind of clueless. Its a happy world – a world filled with Eagles football, pin-up girl tattoos, bootlegs of Van Halen concerts from 1978 and Guitar Center color catalogs. I am pretty sure that Penelope Cruz sometimes makes surprise appearances there too.

My husband was in that little world yesterday when he sought me out in the kitchen to tell me about his latest bootleg booty. Walking in unexpectedly, he (I thought) caught me red-handed while I was roasting a giant pan of vegetables that contained just about everything except sweet potato, thereby thwarting my plan to tell him we were about to have sweet potato soup for dinner (one of the only vegetables he will willingly eat.) My husband looked at the pan of veggies, barely blinked an eye, and then told me excitedly about the U2 Joshua Tree concert he had just discovered. Like a skilled card shark, I went on preparing the Not Sweet Potato Soup right before his eyes.

Kitty’s Roasted Vegetable Soup
makes 4 large mugfuls

6 cups assorted root vegetables – I used butternut squash, carrot, onion, parsnips & jerusalem artichokes – all cut into evenly sized chunks
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
1 quart veggie or chicken broth
bay leaves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 cup half & half
kosher salt

Chipotle-Maple Creme Fraiche

1 tablespoon adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers
1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
1/2 cup creme fraiche (or sour cream)

Preheat the oven to 400F, and spread the veggies on a baking sheet. Drizzle liberally with olive oil, and about 1/3 as much balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with kosher salt, stir, and pop into the oven for 20 – 30 minutes. Stir once or twice. The balsamic will cause the veggies to darken deeply in color, and carmelize for amazing flavor. Add the cooked veggies to a warmed pot of broth, which has been simmering with the bay leaves. Remove the bay, and pulverize everything with a hand immersion blender. Once pureed, add the remaining ingredients, and season to taste.

Stir the topping ingredients well, and use to dollop over the hot soup. Sprinkle with crushed walnuts.

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I used to think that pureeing almost anything would make for a successful veggie fake-out, but not so. While any combination of veggie flavors generally gets an A-OK in my book, my previous attempts to pulverize vegetable soups have been met with much skepticism from my husband. “It smells green”, he would say. There were no complaints with this soup though…he was way too busy eating.

The beauty of a soup like this is that you could easily sub all sorts of root veggies. The topping is also open for suggestion. Walnut-sage pesto would be amazing, as would a simple dollop of yogurt or sour cream, maybe with a few toasted pumpkin seeds. I happen to love the combination of salty/spicy/sweet, and think that this Maple-Chipotle Creme Fraiche topping makes the whole dish really come alive. It would be a great dip for french fries, or drizzled on fried catfish.

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