An operational framework is presented for assimilating, surface soil moisture remote sensing measurements into a soil-vegetation-atmosphere-transfer (SVAT) model for the robust prediction of root zone moisture time series. The proposed approach is based on analytical treatment of the dynamical equations coupling surface and deeper soil reservoirs. The resulting framework uses biases between observed and modeled time rates of change of surface soil moisture to quantify biases between modeled and actual root zone average soil moisture contents. The approach is based on the popular interactions between soil-biosphere-atmosphere (ISBA) force-restore SVAT model. An experimental data set, collected near Cork, Ireland, is analyzed both for a long data series of 183 days and four short periods that were selected to focus on different hydrometeorological conditions. The results demonstrated that the proposed framework performs uniformly robust over 3 orders of magnitude of misspecification of saturated hydraulic conductivity. In the presence of uncertain initial conditions, the results demonstrated a marked increase in model skill (over the original ISBA model) for periods when average precipitation was less than average potential evaporation.