Did you know that parsnip is derived from the Latin word “pastus” which means food? Today, the poor parsnips are often overlooked as they literally pale in comparison to their (often) orange cousins, carrots. These unsung heroes are great roasted, mashed, or used to flavor stocks.Traditionally, parsnips had several common uses, from sweetening baked goods before sugar was readily available to being a toothache remedy.
Compared to carrots, this cream colored vegetable offers a sweeter, nuttier flavor. Their sweetness is due to the chemical change that occurs to the starch after the first frost of the year, when parsnips are generally harvested.
Using parsnips is easy; they don’t even need to be peeled. They are great counterparts with their fellow earthy vegetables, like potatoes and carrots. To make my root soup, I began by washing the vegetables.
Then, I cut off the ends to the carrots and parsnips, and I chopped them into 1inch pieces. I quartered the onions and potatoes and added them to the bowl. I left the garlic cloves in their skin and added them as well. Finally, I seasoned the chopped vegetables with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper, and herbes de Provence.
I put the veggies onto a sheet pan and into the preheated oven. I let them roast for 20 minutes before stirring and reducing the temperature to 400degrees for another 20 minutes. From the pan, I carefully picked out the hot garlic cloves with a towel and squeezed out the roasted goodness into a deep saucepan.
Since I am blessed to have an immersion blender, I was able to pour in half the veggies and half of the broth and whizz away. I added more salt and pepper and some fresh thyme. When things looks mostly smooth, I added more veggies and more broth and kept blending. It’s really important to taste and season according to your tastes.
This soup is easy to make and it’s likely that you’ll have everything you need in your root cellar.
Rustic Carrot, Parsnip, Potato Soup
5-6 carrots, washed and cut into 1 inch pieces, from Second Spring Farm
3 large parsnips, washed and quartered, and cut in 1 inch pieces, from Second Spring farm
2 yellow onions, cut in large dice
2 potatoes, quartered, from Shiloh’s Garden
3 garlic cloves, in the skin
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp herbs de provence or herbs of choice
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock or broth
Chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, thyme, or chives, for garnish
Hot sauce to taste (I used Tongue Huggers LLC‘s Ghost in the Basement)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prep vegetables as described. Mix them in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper, and herb. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes. Stir and reduce heat to 400 degrees. Cook for 20 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove veggies from oven.
Find garlic cloves and squeeze out roasted pulp from skin into soup pan. Toss in half of the veggies and 2 cups of stock. Use an immersion blender to start blending and continue adding stock in slowly, stopping to blend as needed. Add in the rest of the veggies, blend and add the rest of the stock. (You can use a blender too, just be careful!)
Be sure to season throughout with salt, pepper, hot sauces to taste. Put over low heat to warm through. Serve with toasted Parmesan Olive Herb bread from Pleasanton Bakery or your other favorite crusty bread.
Emma Beauchamp is the Local Food Coordinator for NW Michigan. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org