Are you a parsnip person? I'm pretty sure they were my most detested vegetable as a child. Mostly because they hid in stews, disguised as chunks of potato. I'm not sure I actually hated the taste all that much, it was mostly the surprise factor. Like when you go for a swig of water, and it turns out to be milk. Even though you like milk, you still want to spray it all over the table.
That said, parsnips do have a bitterness that may have dissuaded my young taste buds. I still don't seek them out regularly, but I was craving root vegetables and I wanted to bust out of my (delicious) tomato soup rut.
I've been making it about once a week since that post...
In this heartwarming soup, the sweetness of the apple and the warm spices nicely round out the parsnips' mild abrasiveness. The potato and cream add body and richness.
It is a simple, cozy lunch on a snowy day. It makes me want a chunky knit sweater, wool socks, a good book and a chair by the window.
However, it could easily moonlight as an elegant first course for a winter dinner party. Maybe toss in some sourdough croutons and drizzle with hazelnut oil...
Vegetable soups are one preparation that really need to be seasoned properly, or they can fall flat. I keep a little pinch-pot of sea salt next to my stove. You need one stirring spoon, and one tasting spoon. Sprinkle a bit of salt into the soup, stir it, then drop a bit onto your tasting spoon. Repeat the salting and tasting until the soup tastes vibrant.
If you're new to the art of "seasoning to taste", perfect your tenchnique on some salt-free chicken broth. Heat it up, and use the exercise above to practice getting the salt just right - you will see how it goes from dull and flat, to perfectly seasoned and bright, to too salty.
Apple Parsnip Soup
Makes 4 meal-sized servings; 6-8 starter sized servings
4 tbsp butter
1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
1 large potato, peeled and chopped
2 medium apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 lb parsnips (4 medium), peeled and chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup cream (I used half-and-half, but would splurge on heavy cream for a dinner party)
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onions and saute until softened but not browned, about 8 minutes.
2. Add potato, apples and parsnips; stir in chicken broth and spices. Increase heat to bring soup to a boil, then reduce back to medium low and simmer, covered, until vegetables and apples are very soft, about 30 minutes.
3. Puree in batches, or using an immersion blender. Stir in cream and season well with salt and pepper.