Parsnip Soup

I love this soup on a cold winter day! Who would have thought such depth of flavor could come from so few ingredients? This very elegant soup is a perfect one for entertaining but is easy enough for a weekday lunch or dinner too. It has a silky smooth texture and the consistency is exactly what I want from a creamed soup. Since parsnips can vary in size, you may want to add more or less stock to get the consistency you like. This soup is velvety and rich but not paste-like…does that make sense?

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Ingredients

  • 4 large parsnips, peeled and coarsely chopped. (Reserve shavings)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 5 cups vegetable stock (low-salt, if using bouillon cube)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup coconut milk (or other non-dairy milk)
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp. ground ginger large pinch dried thyme

Garnish

  • Parsnip shavings
  • Fresh herbs, such as parsley, dill, cilantro

Directions

Place the reserved parsnip shavings in a bowl of ice-cold water and set aside while preparing the soup. If they curl up in the ice water, let them be – it makes for an interesting garnish.

Heat a non-stick frying pan to medium-high and add prepared parsnips. Let them begin to cook for a minute or so without stirring them around in the pan. Once they begin to turn golden brown, start  turning the pieces over so that they brown evenly on all sides. Add 2-3 tbsp. of water and continue stirring to allow the vegetables to cook and caramelize without burning. Continue stirring and adding water as it evaporates, in 2-3 tablespoon increments, until the parsnips are evenly caramelized all over. Remove the parsnips from the pan and set aside. The parsnips do not have to be cooked all the way through at this point, as they will simmer in the stock later.

I used a ceramic non-stick pan to sauté the parsnips and onions in water rather than oil or butter and this works extremely well. The vegetables will naturally caramelize as they release their sugars during the sautéing process, and when they do, just add 2 or 3 tablespoons of water to the pan and continue stirring to prevent them from burning or sticking. Add more water in increments as needed until vegetables are nicely caramelized.

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Water sautéing is a great technique to master if you want to cut down on calories or remove oil from your diet.

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Add onions to the same pan, or use a clean pan if you prefer, and repeat the process of water sautéing the onions, adding water in increments of a few tablespoons at a time until the onions are a light golden brown. If you use the same pan, the onions will probably take less time to brown since the pan will contain residual caramelization from the parsnips.

Return the parsnips to the pan and add the white wine. Boil the wine, parsnips and onions until the  wine is reduced by about half, stirring occasionally. Transfer everything to a large saucepan or soup pot.

Add 5 cups of broth, reduce the heat to a low simmer, and partially cover. Let the soup simmer for 20 minutes. Test the parsnips by sticking the tip of a knife through one of the thicker pieces to see if they are soft, and if not give the soup another 5 minutes. If there is no resistance on the knife, parsnips are done.

Remove from heat and puree the soup using an immersion blender. Alternatively, you can use a standing blender, but if you do, do not fill the blender. Make sure you blend the soup in batches leaving plenty of headspace in the blender.

Stir in coconut milk and spices. Lastly, adjust seasonings if necessary.

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Parsnip Soup Garnish

To make the garnish, heat a clean non-stick frying pan to medium.

Remove the parsnip shavings from the water, and add to a hot pan with only the water the clings to them.

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Toss frequently and as they begin to turn golden brown, remove them to a plate. Don’t overcrowd the pan – work in batched of you have to. The texture should be crisp but some strands will be chewy.

When ready to serve, reheat the soup and ladle it into warm serving bowls. Top each with a small handful of parsnip shavings and sprinkle with fresh herbs

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 *Notes

I prefer canned coconut milk to other varieties of non-dairy milk in this recipe because of its thick consistency. Shake the can before opening and empty the contents into a bowl. Whisk the coconut milk and cream together until no lumps remain, and then measure the ½ cup called for in the recipe. If you prefer to make your own non-dairy milk, be sure to decrease the ratio of water to nuts so that you end up with sufficient cream.

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