When I was a culinary student in Vegetable Cookery, we were asked if any of us had ever tried parsnip. I was surprised that there were only a few students in that class who raised their hand. I grew up with parsnips as a staple in my parent’s garden, much like other root vegetables such as carrots or potatoes.
James Beard thought that parsnips were one of the “most neglected” vegetables and I have to agree. My goal in this post is to encourage you to try parsnips, starting with this recipe. Creamy Parsnip and Potato Soup is a humble soup created from simple ingredients that are made into a silky fragrant soup that is fancy enough to serve for a first course. You will be amazed!
The parsnip is closely related to carrot and parsley. Parsnip originated in Eurasia where it was treated as a vegetable since ancient Roman times. It is interesting to note, before the arrival of cane sugar, parsnip was also used as a sweetener.
Parsnip is most often cooked although it can also be eaten raw in salads or crudités. I recently read about a great recipe from Nik Manojlovich for Crunchy Salad with Apple using shredded raw parsnip, carrot and my favourite Honey Crisp apple with a Feta Cheese Dressing. Delicious!
The health benefits of parsnips are impressive with significant levels of minerals, vitamins, fiber, water, protein and antioxidants. Parsnips are also low in calories, carbohydrates and sodium.
Parsnips can be interchanged with carrots in most recipes (see additional recipe links below). When a parsnip is roasted, it takes on a mild sweet taste that compliments many dishes such as roast beef stew or lamb. If you do not already use parsnips in your vegetable repertoire, I would recommend that you give them a try.
Creamy Parsnip and Potato Soup
CHEF TALK: This simple soup takes less than 30 minutes to make with a few simple ingredients. It is naturally gluten free. For dairy-free version of this soup, use a dairy free milk (I used lactose-free milk). To make a vegetarian version of this soup, eliminate the bacon and use water and dairy-free milk.
Yield: 1 litre soup (4 x first course portions @ 125 ml)
- 2 rashers of bacon, diced small
- 2 large parsnips (or 4 medium), peeled and diced (See Chef Note below)
- 1 potato (russet variety), peeled and diced
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 3/4 cup chicken stock or water
- 2 cups milk
CHEF NOTE: To prepare the parsnip, scrub, peel, and dice. If the parsnip is quite large, remove the inner core of the parsnip, as it can be tough, however, reserve this parsnip core for soup garnish (see Step # 6 in Method below). Dice the remainder of the parsnip and continue to Step # 2 in Method below.
- Cook the diced bacon until crispy, drain the bacon, reserving the bacon fat (you will use 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat to cook the vegetables, and the remaining bacon fat to fry the parsnip core for the soup garnish. Set the crispy bacon aside for garnish later.
- In 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat, add the diced parsnips and potatoes. Add the salt and white pepper. Toss the vegetables in the bacon fat and cook for 5 minutes over low to medium heat, stirring frequently.
- Add the water and cover. Simmer for about 10 – 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Mash with a potato masher.
- Add the milk and continue to simmer for a further 10 minutes until the soup is thickened.
- Adjust the seasonings, if necessary.
- For the parsnip soup garnish: cut the reserved parsnip core into very fine matchsticks. In the remaining bacon fat, fry the parsnip garnish until they are soft and starting to turn translucent – about 1 – 2 minutes. Drain on a paper towel. Sprinkle with sea salt. The parsnip garnish will become crisp as they cool.
- To Serve: If you want a smoother soup, briefly puree with an immersion blender and then strain through a fine meshed strainer, otherwise serve the soup just as it is. For each portion of soup, place a small amount of the parsnip garnish, the crispy bacon bits and a piece of parsley, if desired. Drizzle with a little olive oil and serve.
This recipe has been adapted from: The Fannie Farmer Cookbook
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If you try this recipe for Creamy Parsnip and Potato Soup, please leave me a comment below with your feedback. Don’t forget to pin this recipe for later!
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