Forget creamy parsnip soup…..have you ever eaten a parsnip? Could you identify them in the grocery store?
I first encountered parsnips a good seven or eight years ago. At the time, I was going through a How to Boil Water kick. How to Boil Water was a show where Tyler Florence, then pretty much a new, unknown television chef, taught a cute, hapless twenty-something woman to cook simple but delicious-looking food. I actually really enjoyed the show and made several dishes from it, not least of which being the pot roast with root vegetables-including turnips and parsnips.
At that time I had never eaten a parsnip-as far as I knew, I’d never seen one and certainly had no idea what they looked like. Turns out, parsnips look a whole lot like blonde carrots, and they do have a bit of a carroty flavor, but parsnips are definitely their own person. Like their carrot cousins, parsnips are a hearty, fall-harvest root vegetable, perfect for long storage and just right for cooking in these cold winter months that make you crave warm and filling foods. They were excellent served along pot roast and make a great puree to stand in for mashed potatoes, but a month or two ago my mind started craving a creamy parsnip soup.
Elise Bauer’s blog, Simply Recipes, provided a recipe that was a jumping off point for me. From there I added some touches that I borrowed from my favorite potato-leek soup, specifically heavy cream and crème frâiche. I know that posting a recipe loaded with cream-based things on January 1st may not be the best PR move I’ve ever made, but look: in my house, heavy cream is a health food. Amen and amen.
I can tell you one thing, and that is that we must change the parsnip’s image. To be more precise, we need to raise parsnip awareness. When I buy loose parsnips, it usually takes the cashier a good minute to find the code to ring up this unusual veg, and Publix-which definitely carries the “better” selection of “exotic” vegetables, didn’t have parsnips at all. I ended up buying them in one pound bags at Bi-Lo, filled with righteous indignation that these pale wonders are not given the credit due them.
One more thing: unless you have the time and willingness to go to one of the more upscale grocery stores in town (none of which are anywhere near me), you will probably not be able to find crème frâiche (which is a lot like sour cream but a little sweeter). Publix sometimes has it but more often than not I can’t find it, which is why I just make my own. It’s less stress-inducing and frankly just less expensive (a small carton at Publix was close to $5). My method is at the bottom!
This creamy parsnip soup is a perfect way to warm up on a cold day!
Yield: 6 servings
20 minPrep Time:
40 minCook Time:
1 hrTotal Time:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 leeks (white and green parts only, halved, sliced, and thoroughly cleaned)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2lb parsnips (peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick)
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup parsley (chopped)
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- crème frâiche (for serving-you can use sour cream in a pinch, but if you can't find crème frâiche, I recommend you try my method for making your own!)
- chives (chopped, for garnish)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon buttermilk
- Make the crème fraîche: Combine heavy cream and buttermilk in a Mason jar. Cover and let sit at room temperature, stirring a few times a day, until thickened (usually a day or two). Store in the refrigerator.
- Dry the leeks thoroughly. Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium heat and sauté the leeks briefly, then turn the heat down to low and cover. Cook until soft, about five minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the olive oil to the pan. Add the parsnips along with a teaspoon of salt and stir to coat with the butter and olive oil. Add the water and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the parsnips are tender, about thirty minutes. Remove from heat.
- Puree the soup until completely smooth using a handheld blender or in a regular blender in batches. Add the heavy cream and return to heat, cooking until heated through. Stir in the chopped parsley and salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve the soup garnished with crème frâiche and chopped chives. You can leave these out....but I wouldn't if I were you.