Quick Bites from Pender

In Defense of the Parsnip & Roasted Parsnip Soup – Recipe

In Recipes on December 6, 2009 at 5:01 pm
parsnip soup with bacon and parmesan

nice crispy bacon, Mr. Frodo?

I love parsnips – they’ve been my favourite root vegetable since I rediscovered them in my late 20s.  So, when I saw a recipe for parsnip soup in our culinary school curriculum, I was pumped to see what ambrosia our french instructors would have us create.  Most of the other students had never even tasted a parsnip, so I continued to wax lyrical with enthusiastic praise for it right up until the moment we sat down to taste the soup.

The school version was so bad that not even my devotion to everything parsnip could get me through the whole bowl. It was the pears that did it.  No one should add fruit (tomatoes excl.) to soup.  It shouldn`t be allowed. (Unless of course, it’s a fruit soup — but that`s another topic for another time.)

My (lack of) taste was the object of many snide remarks as we cleaned up that night, especially as I continued to defend the parsnip and its potential.  Cooks are a pretty straightforward bunch though – so aside from one sympathetic smile at the back of the crowd (thanks Naoko), most everyone was quite happy to slip in a little jab in at my expense.

I vowed then that one day I would show them the true value of the parsnip.  And this soup does it.  Howard and I each had big bowl for lunch with a thickly buttered piece of homemade sourdough, and agreed that it was as good as good can be.  Yum.

I grew the parsnips that I used for this soup.  It’s the first successful crop I’ve ever managed, as parsnips can be a bit persnickety.  I’m so glad that I planted the stray seeds I found in the bottom of my seed basket!  After that, I pretty much forgot about them until our first frost a couple of days ago.  I have read that parsnips are always sweeter when harvested after the first frost – my research concurs.

Roasted Parsnip Soup

Yield:  2 large bowls or 4 small ones

Parsnips, peeled and chopped into 1” (2cm) pieces 225g ( ½ lb)
Olive Oil 15 ml (1 T)
Honey 15 ml (1 T)
Onion, julienned ½ medium (½ C)
Unsalted Butter 30 ml (2 T)
Pear Cider 30 ml (2 T)
Fresh Thyme 2 sprigs
Vegetable Stock 750 ml (3 C)
Whipping Cream 60ml (1/4 C)
Salt & pepper TT

C=cup                   T=tablespoon

t=teaspoon        TT=to taste

Preheat the oven to 375˚ F.   Toss the parsnips, olive oil, honey and salt & pepper in a bowl to coat.  Roast the parsnips until light golden brown, approx 20 minutes.  Stir and turn the parsnips halfway through.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over med-low heat, sweat the onions, with a pinch of salt, in the butter until they are tender, but have NO colour.  Add the roasted parsnips to the pan, increase the heat to med high, and cook for 2 minutes more.  Add the pear cider and fresh thyme, simmer rapidly until almost dry.  Add the vegetable stock, bring to a boil, then reduce the read to med-low and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Remove the thyme sprigs and purée the soup with an immersion blender or food processor.  Return the soup to the pan, stir in the whipping cream and season to taste.  Serve hot.

Tips:

  • I garnished the soup with parmesan, bacon lardons and a sprig of fennel.  A dash of smoked paprika would also be nice.
  • I used our toaster oven to roast the parsnips – it took much less time, and used a bunch less energy too.
  • Instead of pear cider, use apple cider, apple juice or pear juice from a can of fruit (thin if necessary), or even white wine in a pinch.
  • To make this vegan, simply use olive oil in place of butter and omit the cream.  I really like the butter in this soup though – you just don’t get the same flavour with olive oil…
  • Soup is always better the next day – if you can, make it the day before, but don`t add the cream.  Cool, then cover and refrigerate.  To serve, add the cream to the soup and heat over medium.
  • For a more refined, silkier soup, force the soup through a wire mesh strainer after puréeing, but before adding the cream.
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