Winter is always Root Vegetable Season in my kitchen. As temperatures drop my oven temperature rises to accommodate all the vegetable roasting that’s about to go down. And as much as I love carrots and potatoes and onions and turnips and rutabaga and…ok, you get it. I ❤️ root vegetables. As much as I love them there’s one that often goes overlooked and underutilized — parsnips.
Parsnips are always right there in the produce section but I think a lot of us don’t know what to do with them. Is it a colorless carrot? Why is it shaped like that? What does it taste like because I don’t want to risk ruining my roasted vegetable medley with some funny looking albino carrot with whiskers.
So, here’s the deal. Parsnips are not carrots. They’re in the carrot family but not the same at all. For starters they’re both sweeter and more bitter than carrots. Sweeter and bitter-er? (I know that’s not right.) Yes, somehow parsnips are able to accomplish both. They roast beautifully, make excellent fries, and if you add a heaping handful or two to your mashed potatoes (before you mash them) your life will be forever changed. Ok, parsnips probably won’t change your life but they will make anything you put them in better.
Look for parsnips that are pale (obvi) and small. Bigger isn’t better here. Smaller parsnips are sweeter and tender. Avoid parsnips with the tiny strands or whiskers growing on them. Those tendrils mean your parsnip didn’t get enough water and won’t be as tasty. Store your parsnips in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer in your fridge. I’m told they’ll last a long time but good things don’t stick around too long in my fridge so I have zero personal knowledge of such.
As with all veggies, parsnips are good for you. They’re loaded with fiber, potassium and tons of vitamins C & E. Buy some immediately and use them in this Cream of Parsnip Soup. You can thank me later.
Cream of Parsnip Soup
Baby, it’s cold outside so SOUP. ALL the soups. (Receipts here, here and here.) I especially love a creamy veggie soup when it’s so cold that I actually start questioning all of the life choices that led me to live in a place where winter happens EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR.
Anywho, back to the Cream of Parsnip Soup. Soups are a wonderful way to build your chops in the kitchen because it’s all about the technique. Once you’ve mastered or are at least familiar with the technique, you can swap out ingredients without fear and still end up with a pot of something delicious. Same goes for this soup. I’m loving on parsnips at the moment but they could easily be chopped carrots or potatoes or your favorite veg.
I carnivore this one up with a handful of bacon, but you can skip the bacon and start with a splash of olive oil in your pan instead. Do you, Boo. It’s all good. Seriously. Just try this soup and when you do, make sure you tag #cookingclarified on social media so I can see!
Make a bacon-free version by subtituting a tablespoon or two of olive oil (enough to evenly coat the bottom of the pan) instead and skip step 1.
Use vegetable stock for a vegetarian version.
Cream of Parsnip Soup
2 slices bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1½ pounds parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
½ cup white wine
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream or half and half
salt and pepper, to taste
croutons or toast cut into cubes, optional
1. Cook bacon in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium high heat. Cook until bacon is brown and crisp, 3-5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove bacon from pot and place on paper towels to drain.
2. Add onion, garlic and parsnips to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables soften and parsnips begin to brown, about 5 minutes.
3. Deglaze the pan with wine and use a spatula or wooden spoon to loosen any bits of food stuck to the bottom of the pan. Continue cooking until all but a tablespoon of wine remain in the pan (eyeball it).
4. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until parsnips are fork tender.
5. Carefully ladle soup into blender and blend until smooth. Return soup to pot over medium heat. Stir in heavy cream or half-and-half. Adjust seasoning to taste the serve.
6. Garnish with bacon and croutons, optional.