At Par


My introduction to parsnip was at a Sunday Jiggs dinner. It was being cooked along with potatoes, carrots and turnip in a boiling pot of water that had already been christened by a chunk of salt meat. The parsnip – a root that looked like a bleached carrot but was softer and mellower than its cousin with an almost flowery taste – had taken me by surprise. I liked parsnip, just like that: slightly over-cooked in briny water and doused in turkey gravy.
I did not grow up eating parsnip. We don’t get them in India. And somehow parsnip always slips my mind until I have a pot of stew to make. I never think about using this beautifully fragrant root (that is inexpensive and always available) in anything else but the occasional stew.
A few weeks ago, on a birthday supper at Raymonds, an amuse bouche arrived: ย we were served a tiny cappuccino cup of parsnip soup topped with bacon foam. ย I am a bacon fan – always have been – but that was perhaps the first time in my life that I wanted more of the parsnip soup over the bacon foam. I had rediscovered parsnip.
This soup is simple and pleasing on a winter’s day. With just five ingredients that simply enhances the flowery sweetness of the humble root vegetable, this is as simple as simple can be. ย After all, aren’t the simple things in life the most extraordinary?
  • Parsnip: 2 cups diced
  • Onion: 1/4 cup diced
  • White wine: 1/2 cup
  • Water: 4 cups
  • Butter: 1 Tbsp
  • Salt: to taste
  • White Truffle oil: 1/2 tsp per serving
  • Toasted Pine nuts: a few per serving
  • Chili flakes: To taste
  • Heat butter in a shallow pan on medium heat. Add onions and sweat them over low heat until they turn almost mushy which can take approx 15 mins. The colour should not change to brown.
  • Add the diced parsnips and stir to combine wit the onions. Stir over low heat to blend everything for about 10-15 minutes.
  • Add the wine and increase heat to medium.
  • Let boil for a few minutes before adding the water.
  • Salt to taste and let simmer until parsnips are soft, approx 30 mins.
  • Take off heat and let cool slightly before blending.
  • Use a hand blender or a mixer to puree the soup.
  • Serve warm or room temperature topped with white truffle oil and toasted pine nuts.
  • Chili flakes can be used for garnish for some added heat.

15 thoughts on “At Par

  1. We don’t get parsnips in the markets frequently here and actually I’ve never used it in my kitchen. It’s a pity there are so many ingredients we can not use it. It really looks very nice in texture and I guess the flavor must be nice too. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • I did not know about parsnips before i came to Canada. I love sing them, and especially the fragrance is beautiful. Yes, it’s a pity that there are so many different things we don’t get to taste because of their availability. We don’t get a whole lot of fresh vegetables here all the time either. The flavour is a lot like a mix between celeriac and fennel. It is beautiful and mild and velvety in a soup.

  2. When I look at this smooth and velvety soup, I think it’s do far from simple. Your addition of truffle oil, pine nuts and those pepper flakes elevate it to amazing food status, no doubt you’re trying to recreate that amazing amuse bouche with the delicious bacon froth etc ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I’ve had a love affair with parsnips for years. Again it wasn’t something I naturally ate (growing up) in a Chinese household but roasted is preferably the way I enjoy them and them lots more of them!

    Back in the ye olde times and Elizabethan period, parsnips were used by the poor to flavour their teas and (cakes) in place of sugar. A fun fact I thought you might enjoy!

    • That is such a neat piece of information. Thank you so much for it. I love little snippets of info on things that surprise me. A cake sweetened by parsnip…I am so intrigued and challenged by it.
      The soup is humble the way it’s made with not much. But yes, dress it up like you please and it’ll be surprisingly over the top. I love the soup so much I had to give it a try when we got home. So delicious.

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