Saturday, December 1, 2007

Apple and Parsnip Soup

Parsnips are a hugely under-rated vegetable. My mother never served them. In fact, until I was an adult I thought a parsnip was another one of those root vegies like turnips and rutabagas, i.e. round, globe shaped, which I didn't like, really. But parsnips are a completely different animal. They look like anemic carrots, but they're very firm. But also extremely tasty. I forget to buy them. But then, my local grocery store doesn't carry them except on an occasional basis. Probably because lots of other people THINK they don't like them, either. Or, they don't know how to prepare them. Parsnips have a lovely, sweet taste when cooked, kind of like carrots do. They blend beautifully into soups, as a matter of fact, and add another layer of flavor if you're making a carrot or potato soup. They also make a very nice vegetable (a carb, albeit) to serve with a roast or a grilled piece of meat. You can mash it just like potatoes once they're cooked. Just peel well, simmer and mash with a little butter and salt and pepper.

I've had parsnips several times when I've visited places in the United Kingdom. The Brits know all about parsnips. I think our friend Pam once served us a parsnip soup as a first course for a lovely Sunday dinner. Sometimes you'll see them in long quarters beside a big juicy roast - like we'd serve carrots.

So, when Cherrie and I were served this apple and parsnip soup the other day (at a cooking class at Our House, South County in San Juan Capistrano), we both did our best to lick the inside of the cups clean. We couldn't quite, but we tried. It's a simple soup, really, with a nice gentle undercurrent of curry powder (eliminate it if you don't like curry). This would freeze well, except for the garnish, although you could toast the pecans and put them in a small plastic bag inside the soup bag.

Everyone at our table raved about the soup too. It was a stunner. The winner in my book, if there was one, of all the recipes in the class. It was served with a cheddar and apple panini (pictured with the soup, above). My hats off to Sarah, the chef at the cooking school (who reads my blog, she told me!). Well done, Sarah! I'll be making this soup next week without a doubt.

Apple and Parsnip Soup
Servings: 6
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 large onions, sliced
2 large parsnips, scrubbed and cubed
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 pound apples, Granny Smith, peeled, cored, cubed
2 teaspo0ns curry powder
6 1/4 cups chicken stock
1 1/4 cups half and half

1 cup pecans, chopped
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
2/3 cup creme fraiche
1. Melt the butter in a large soup pot and saute the onions and garlic over a moderate heat until the onions are translucent. Stir in the parsnips and apple, and saute for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the curry powder and cook for one minute. Pour on the chicken stock, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
2. Puree the soup in a blender in batches and return to the pot. Stir in the cream, season and reheat gently.
3. Garnish: Melt the butter in a saute pan and add the pecans. Saute over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Swirl the creme fraiche on top of the soup, and sprinkle pecans on top.
Per Serving (about 1 1/2 cups): 538 Calories; 42g Fat (69.7% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 35g Carbohydrate; 8g Dietary Fiber; 85mg Cholesterol; 2280mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 1/2 Fruit; 1/2 Non-Fat Milk; 8 1/2 Fat.
To print a PDF recipe, click title at top.


ThursdayNext said...

I only started cooking with parsnips last winter because many of Emeril's recipes call for them - I have missed out. I love the flavor it lends to stews and roasts. This recipe sounds lovely...and perfect for such a snowy day like today is here in New York.

Carolyn T said...

Glad you're enjoying the parsnips. They're on my grocery list for today; just hope one of the markets even HAS them.