Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Winter Vegetable Ragout with Bacon

Ragouts are simply a mixture of vegetables stewed with small pieces of meat—in this case a little bacon and a whole lot of veggies. I love the deep, earthy taste and rustic appearance of winter vegetables, especially root vegetables, and they come together simply and easily for one warm, scrumptious, nutrition-packed dinner.

Vegetables for the Ragout
We often think beets are for pickling or roasting, but they also add richness to soups and stews—and cook in the same time as other vegetables when small-diced. I chose a golden beet because the more common red beet would tint the stew toward a dark purplish color, and I wanted to keep the “autumn look” with more earth tones. The golden variety is perfect for that.

Inside the Golden Beet
If you don’t normally cook with bitter greens, welcome a little escarole into your kitchen. While it’s tasty eaten raw in salads, escarole is also excellent for cooking, which mellows its slightly bitter flavor. It doesn’t need much time—toss it in during the last few minutes of cooking, and it’s ready to go.

Note: The small russet potatoes in this dish are included more for texture than as a substantial taste component. As they cook, the starchy spuds break down a bit and act as a thickening agent for the soup. If you prefer a very thin ragout, simply add more broth. 

Serves 5-6

  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon (about 1/4-inch thick), chopped    
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 golden beets, peeled and small-diced
  • 2 small russet potatoes, peeled and small-diced
  • 1 medium leek, chopped (white and light green parts only)
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped peeled carrot    
  • 1 small butternut squash (about 1-1/4 lbs), peeled and small-diced
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and small-diced
  • 1 large turnip, peeled and small-diced  
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-1/2 cups chopped escarole (about 1 small head)
Thick-Cut Bacon 
Russet, Beet, Leek, Onion, and Carrot
Sweet Potato, Turnip, and Squash
Chopped Escarole


  1. Heat a large soup pot over medium heat and add the bacon. Cook until about 1 tablespoon of fat is rendered, 6-7 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, leaving 1 tablespoon of fat. Set bacon aside.
Bacon Beginning to Cook 
Cooked Bacon
  1. Add the olive oil to the pot. Add the beets, russet potatoes, leek, onion, and carrot and stir well to combine. Cook until beginning to soften, 11-12 minutes.
  2. Add the squash, sweet potato, and turnip and season with salt and pepper. Stir well to combine and cook 5 minutes.
Vegetables Beginning to Cook
Remaining Vegetables Added
  1. Return the bacon to the pot and add the broth. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, 35 minutes.
  2. Add the escarole and stir well until wilted. Cook 7 minutes, until tender.
Broth and Bacon Added 
Escarole Added
Divide the ragout among bowls and serve hot.

Winter Vegetable Ragout with Bacon


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  2. This soup looks and sounds delicious! I love all the root vegetables in it! I've just joined the Tumbleweed Contessa to host What'd You Do This Weekend? and this is one of my features! I hope you will join us again this Monday, the party starts bright and early! http://joylovefood.com/whatd-weekend-1/

  3. Joy, thanks so much --- really appreciate it.

    I'll be there :)