Beverly Hills-based Jewish-Italian chef Elana Horwich bills herself as a “badass chef” and prides herself on teaching other aspiring cooks to follow their gut instincts in the kitchen through her Meal and a Spiel cooking school. (Check out our interview here!) She focuses on healthy, rustic recipes that anyone can make without feeling klutzy or inept. Sound promising? Here’s a hearty fall recipe from her cookbook, “Meal and a Spiel: How to Be a Badass in the Kitchen,” out Oct. 15.

Autumn Harvest Root Vegetable Soup

This soup is a huge hit every year in my “Everything but the Turkey Class.” We boil a huge pot of broth with all the listed veggies and then take out the veggies to purée them into a soup. It’s pretty much just that easy! Then we use the broth for our stuffing. We make a celery root purée while we’re at it, and we store the leftover broth in the freezer so we can use it for a variety of recipes. The crisped sage leaves will add a lovely touch, as will the pecorino romano. If your soup lacks flavor, it’s likely because it needs more kosher salt, so don’t be shy. And I’m not exaggerating on the amount of pepper…this does well with some kick!


  • 2 onions, with peel, whole
  • 1 small celery root, peeled, whole
  • 1 russet potato, with peel, whole
  • 1 yam, with peel, whole
  • 1 turnip, without peel, whole
  • 2 parsnips, with peel, whole
  • 3 carrots, with peel, whole
  • 1 celery rib
  • Handful of parsley (leaves and stem)
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 pounds chicken necks, wings or legs
  • Water
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 40-60 turns of the pepper mill
  • 20-30 sage leaves
  • 3 teaspoons butter or olive oil
  • Good extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
  • Grated pecorino romano to serve, optional


  1. Put all of the veggies, herbs and chicken in a large pot and cover with water.
  2. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer on low for about 90 minutes, until vegetables are soft but not falling totally apart. Let cool in the pot.
  3. Remove the vegetables and place in a mixing bowl. Now you will need to peel the onions. (We included the peel in the cooking because it adds so much flavor!)
  4. Cut vegetables into manageable pieces and put them, in batches with a few cups of broth, in a Vitamix, food processor or powerful blender as they will fit. Purée.
  5. Add salt and pepper to each batch, taste and adjust.
  6. Add more broth if you desire a thinner consistency.
  7. Pour each batch into a large soup cauldron or pot. Swirl batches together gently as you may see a beautiful color differentiation in batches, as some will have more yam and carrot than the others.
  8. To crisp sage leaves, put half of the butter or olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat until just bubbling. Be careful not to burn it!
  9. Add half the sage leaves and let crisp, about a minute or so on each side. Place on paper towels when done. Continue with second batch.
  10. Ladle the soup into bowls. Drizzle with olive oil. Top with fresh pecorino romano and a sage leave.
  11. Bring pepper, pecorino cheese and olive oil to the table so each can add more if desired.

Vegetarian option: Add all of the above vegetables and herbs to a pot, as described above. Add 3 liters water and a few tablespoons of olive oil, cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat and let simmer for a good hour-and-a-half. Turn off the stove and let sit until cooled. Proceed with above instructions, being careful not to purée the parsley, thyme or bay leaf. You may also want to add a tablespoon of butter for every blender-full of veggies to replace the tasty fat of chicken that you won’t get from the veggies alone. Since you’re not using chicken, which adds flavor, I recommend you slice up two to three leeks (white and light green parts only) and sauté them in a couple teaspoons of olive oil or butter and add this to the veggies as you purée them.