Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Photo by Judith Hausman
Carrots can be boring; try some parsnips this spring instead!
Signs of spring are sprouting: crocus and daffodil greens poking through the snow, hopping robins and birdsong in the air, longer days and ice-free ponds. And yet, a few more soups can still be enjoyed from last season's root vegetables before fresh spring asparagus and peas take over.
I enjoy growing parsnips, but I don't have much experience with them in the kitchen. As a result, I overcooked a stack of them that were destined for a Malaysian-style curry dish that intrigued me. While too soft for the curry, a wand blender pureed the softened parsnips and some additional broth into a delicate soup. Garam masala complimented the already-sweet flavors, but average curry powder or ground ginger would also work in a pinch. Onions, celery, leeks, carrots or potatoes could be added nicely — try roasting the vegetables for 25 minutes or so at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, rather than simmering them. Use cream for more luxury, if you must; I rarely do.
I also experimented with a garnish. Following the current kale-chip craze, I tossed sliced crimini mushrooms with olive oil and salt and roasted them at high heat until they dried. A final pass under the broiler crisped the mushrooms into perfect foils for the creamy soup. A spoonful of pesto or some chopped pumpkin seeds would be easy and tasty alternatives.
Serves 4 to 6
Recipe: Creamy Parsnip Soup with Mushroom Chips
- 2 pounds medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup canned, evaporated whole milk (optional)
MUSHROOM CHIPS INGREDIENTS
- 1/2 pound crimini or “baby bella” mushrooms, sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- kosher salt, to taste
Simmer the parsnips, bay leaf and garlic in enough broth to barely cover them until they are very soft. Remove from heat. Take out the bay leaf. Add lemon juice and garam masala, and season to taste. Use a wand blender to puree the mixture, adding the remaining broth and milk to desired thickness. Warm gently.
To make the mushroom chips, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the mushrooms on a rimmed baking sheet, and toss with oil and salt. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes until the slices begin to darken and dry. Reset the oven to broil, and crisp the mushrooms for 2 to 3 minutes.
Garnish individual servings of soup with a generous spoonful of chips, and serve.
You might also enjoy these Locavore Recipes:
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