Parsnip: Carrot’s Elegant Cousin

Parsnips. I do love them. I suppose my inaugural post should have been dedicated to parsnips, but that would have been a bit too predictable.

Parsnips are what I call an outsider vegetable. Though they are closely related to the carrot, and can be used in similar ways, they don’t seem to get the same amount of love. I just don’t know many people who have parsnips on heavy rotation in their vegetable line up. It’s odd because though their absence of color suggests blandness, they are just the opposite.

For me parsnips are the cool, sophisticated cousin to carrots, with their creamy flesh and sweet, mellow flavor that can only be described as, well, carrot like. My favorite preparation for parsnips is also the most simple — roasting. Chop two or three parsnips and throw them into a roasting pan with a drizzle of olive oil and a good shake of salt and pepper. Roast at 350 until soft, no more than 30 minutes and you’re done.

But why stop there?

Parsnips happen to make a great base for soups. I’ve been trying to perfect parsnip soup for a couple years, and I think I may have hit on it with this recipe.

I call this Irrationally Spiced Parsnip Soup.

It’s warmed up with fresh grated ginger, garam masala and coconut milk. What is garam masala you ask? It’s a traditional Indian blend of spices. While the spice mix varies by region or even family, the jar I picked up in my local grocery store contained cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, black pepper and coriander. You could also make this yourself, if you are so inclined.

With minimal ingredients, this is a great soup to try if you’re a kitchen beginner. You can either use store-bought broth, or make your own stock (my preference), but that will be the focus of a future post.

It’s a blizzard of parsnips!

Irrationally Spiced Parsnip Soup

3 medium to large parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. butter
2 tsp. fresh grated ginger*
½ to 1 tsp. garam masala (or more, to get very irrational)
1 cup coconut milk (or more, if you like a thinner soup)
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock or broth
Salt & pepper to taste

*Ginger Tip
Freeze ginger in 3 inch chunks and grate when needed. This makes it a lot easier to deal with as peeling fresh ginger is a pain in the ass.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Place parsnips into a roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast parsnips until soft, no more than 30 minutes. Mid-way through cooking, shake pan a bit to prevent sticking.

Place parsnips into a blender or food processor with one cup of broth or stock. Puree until smooth. Transfer parsnip mixture to medium pot over medium-low heat and add butter, stirring to combine. Stir in remaining one cup of broth/stock and coconut milk. Add garam masala and ginger. If you like a thicker soup, you can stop here, but make sure to adjust the seasonings to your liking first. If you prefer a silkier soup, return the mixture to a blender or use an immersion blender to smooth it out, adding a couple tablespoons of either coconut milk or stock in the process.

WARNING: While this soup will soothe your cold January bones and clear your sinuses, it turns out a rather hideous shade of beige. But that’s the wonderful thing about the parsnip—its looks are deceiving.

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