Friday, December 3, 2010

Parsnip Soup

Cheap Eat Challenge Count Down: 29 days

Parsnip Soup. It's not quite as virtuous as it sounds. 

But when you have a vegetable that starts out looking like this...

It just needs a bit of extra love.

What's that you say? It doesn't need love. It needs someone to cut off it's freaky martian Barbie legs and put it out of its misery.

No, no, really it just needs some cream. And maybe a bit of butter. And some cardamom of course.

Also, these pictures came from parsnips that came from my garden, which are a little, well, unusual, as are many of the vegetables that happen to come from my garden. And why would I grow such a monstrosity in my garden in the first place? Because last year a friend let me in on the tail end of her CSA. And in the fall this is just the type of vegetable you get from a CSA. I'd never had parsnips before. If there hadn't been a sign by the box of parsnips, I wouldn't have even known what there were. But then I made this soup. And there was love. And then there was marriage. And then came the baby parsnips. No, no, no, sorry I got confused. And then there were seeds at Rural King. And then there was more parsnip soup in the fall. (By the way, this soup was also my first experience with cardomom--it, too, was love.)

Don't have a CSA? Or a garden out back producing freaky-legged vegetables? Guess what, you can find them at WalMart. Why have you never noticed them before? Because they sit in pale sadness in that neglected section of unloved vegetables--that's right, near the brussel sprouts.

You can make this with carrots instead if you're still worried the parsnips are going to jump off your plate and attack. And it's good with carrots. But it's not as good. And that's the gospel truth.

Also, sometimes parsnips get a bit woody in the centers. Maybe this isn't true if they're from the store, but from my garden, some of the centers would have made excellent switches. If they're really bad, you can take them out, but all the cooking and the pureeing can take care of all but the most woody cores.

Parsnip Soup
Adapted from allrecipes
Serves 4

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 lb peeled parsnips, diced
1 onion, diced
2 T butter
1 tsp sugar
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2-3/4 tp cardamom
1/2-3/4 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
3 C chicken broth
1 1/2 C half-and-half
salt and pepper to taste

In a large sauce pan, heat oil until shimmering.

Add parsnips and onion and saute, stirring a little at first and then more frequently. Stir until veggies start to turn golden brown (7-8 minutes).

Reduce heat to low and add butter, sugar, and garlic. Cook until all vegetables are a rich spotty caramel color, about 10 more minutes. Add a bit more butter if veggies are sticking.

Add spices and saute until fragrant (about 30 seconds).

Add broth, bring to a boil and then redeuce to a simmer, partially covered, until parsnips are tender (about 10 minutes).

Puree in blender or food processor until nice and smooth. Add half and half (I use about 1 C milk and 1/2 C cream). Adjust seasonings to taste.


Needing a bread to compliment this soup. I just tried a pumpkin cheese muffin from The Casual Baker. I've been wanting to try a savory muffin for a while and these were perfect in every way. We had them with eggs last night and then I had the last one with potato soup for lunch. Even if you fear the parsnips, try these muffins with bacon or scrambled eggs. They're awesome. (And I've got my eye on her chocolate gingerbread too.)

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