photograph by Matt Hulsman

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch pieces
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 3-inch pieces
2 turnips, peeled and quartered
1 sweet potato, peeled and quartered
2 medium rutabagas, peeled and halved
4 cloves garlic
3 quarts chicken stock
2 teaspoons salt
½ cup heavy cream or whole milk
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter
10 to 12 sprigs fresh thyme
2 to 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
Salt to taste
Ground white pepper

Place all of the vegetables and garlic in a large pot and add chicken stock. Season with 2 teaspoons of salt. Bring vegetables to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes or until the vegetables are very tender.

While the vegetables are cooking, combine the heavy cream, butter, and herbs in a pot and heat on low to melt the butter and infuse the herbs into the cream. Do not allow the cream to boil. Remove from heat, cover, and allow to steep until needed. When ready to use, remove the herb sprigs and bay leaves.

Drain vegetables and put them back into a large mixing bowl. Add cream cheese and mash with a potato masher. Gradually stir in the warm cream mixture and mix until the liquid is absorbed and the vegetables are well mashed. Season with salt and pepper. Place the mashed root vegetables in a serving bowl and garnish with thyme sprigs.

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Lynn Wells is a personal chef with more than 20 years of experience in the food and hospitality industry and a degree in Nutrition Management from UNCG.