Parsnip Puree Soup and Crisps
Parsnip Puree Soup with Crisps
You’re so sweet, you’re so fine, but a sugar bomb in wintertime. Okay, the song doesn’t go this way but, in winter, cold converts parsnip starches to sugar at high levels and if the parsnips freeze before harvest, they become even sweeter.
This sweet taste quality can make parsnips particularly popular with kids. However, for some adults, parsnips can taste too sweet unless savory or piquant, spicy ingredients are added. Another option, since parsnips are available year round, is to try them outside of the winter holidays as with this recipe which is using Spring parsnips.
This pureed soup relies simply on parsnips plus onion and garlic as the aromatic ingredients. Salt balances the sweet and enhances parsnip’s nutty flavor qualities. So feel creative with adding any contrasting or complementary flavors.
This recipe is also in honor of National Nutrition Month and its compelling theme of “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right”.
Serves 4-6 (makes 5½-6 cups)
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium (7-8 ounces) yellow onion, roughly chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 4 medium parsnips (about 2¼ pounds), peeled, chopped into ½ to 1-inch sized pieces (to make some crisps, reserve a 3” segment from a middle or end piece of a parsnip)
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt
- 4 cups water (stock can substitute, but see the tasting notes)
Optional: Garnishes and spices—serving option notes
- Over medium heat, warm the oil, then add the onions, garlic and salt. Cook for 3-4 minutes.
- Add 4 cups of water to the pot, and while it is heating, peel and chop the parsnips (except leave a segment if making chips) then add to the water. Cook the parsnips at a rapid simmer for about 20 minutes or until the parsnips are butter soft.
- Blend directly in the pot with an emulsion blender or blend in a counter-top blender.
Parsnip Crisp Steps
- Use a knife or a mandolin to create very thin (less than 1/8 inch) potato chip slices.
- To a medium-sized pot, add enough cooking oil (see notes) to have ½” of oil. Heat over medium-high heat until you see the oil begin to ripple (see notes), then add enough slices to nearly cover the surface of the oil, but not so the slices overlap.
- These will cook fast, so be close by with a slotted spoon to pull them out as they start to brown and place them on a paper towel to cool.
- Smoke point temperatures: for frying, select a cooking oil with a high smoke point. Examples include refined (not cold pressed) organic canola oil, grape seed oil or vegetable oil.
- Smoke point signs: What’s your oil telling you? To avoid having a hot oil smoke, for health and taste reasons, catch the oil just before it smokes. Look for signs on the surface such as ripples, dimpling or waving activities.
- Stock versus water: Not all soups require vegetable or animal-based stocks. In fact, these can create distracting new flavors for vegetables, particularly ones with delicate flavor profiles. To make this parsnip soup more savory, chicken stock would work. Vegetable stock can also work but some vegetable stocks have too much carrot or other sweet flavors that don’t do parsnips any favors.
- Serve with a few crispy pan-fried parsnip chips layered on top
- Sprinkle on some smoked paprika and /or Aleppo chili flakes to balance the sweet notes
- Drizzle on some flavorful Garlic Walnut Green sauce
“For…we can make liquor to sweeten our lips of pumpkins and parsnips and walnut-tree chips.” American Colonist around 1630, a poem excerpt Ancestors in aprons
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French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist
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