Our second green recipe for St. Patrick’s Day is a soup that derives its color from parsley, a wonderful vegetable that has an unfortunate reputation. Too many people just use the curly variety as a garnish on a plate.
But it is actually quite versatile, adding a punch to salads, a note of freshness to vegetable dishes and lively addition to stuffings for fish or chicken.
Many prefer the flat-leaf for flavor, but don’t disregard the curly variety.
“I’ve even used parsley as a vegetable,” says Simon Hopkinson in the ever-helpful “Roast Chicken and Other Stories” (Hyperion, $24.95). “Gently stewed in a little butter for a few moments with a sliver or two of garlic, it is very good with grilled chicken. For this, however, you do have to use the curly variety, as, irritatingly, the flat type sticks to the sides of the pan and doesn’t absorb the butter well. You need the curly type of parsley if you want to deep-fry it, too. I adore deep-fried parsley. It is simplicity itself to prepare. Just drop some well-dried sprigs into hot fat for a few seconds. (One of those electric deep-dryers with a basket is ideal.) Lift the parsley out, drain it on paper towels,and sprinkle with salt.”
This soup recipe, like a great many, original called for a potato, which is strictly verboten to anyone trying to count carbohydrates. But there are substitutes. I tried the following with celeriac, or celery root, which has one-third the carbs (7 grams for the celery root, but 22 grams for the potato per cup), but about the same amount of fiber (about 3 grams). The flavor will change — and in my opinion, for the better. But it still brought a thickness to the soup that gave it a silky texture. It cooked in about the same time as the recipe said the potato would take.
6 tablespoons butter
2 large leeks, white parts only, sliced
2 big bunches of flat-leaf parsley, stalks and leaves separated, stalks chopped, divided use
1 celeriac or 1 large potato, peeled and chopped
2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock, or more as needed
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream
Melt the butter in a saucepan and sweat the leeks and all the parsley stalks, gently, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Add the celeriac or potato, stock and salt and peppers and simmer for a further 20 minutes.
Coarsely chop the leaves of one bunch of parsley and add to the soup. Simmer for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, blanch the leaves of the other bunch of parsley in fiercely boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain and refresh immediately under cold running water, then gently squeeze dry in a tea towel.
Blend the soup with the blanched parsley to make a vivid green puree. Pass through a fine sieve into a clean pan, if needed or desired. (When testing this recipe, a Vitamix made straining unnecessary. If you want a rustic look and texture, don’t strain.) Add the cream, reheat, and adjust the seasoning. If the soup is too thick, you may want to thin it with more starch.
Garnish ideas include a fresh parsley leaf, fried garlic chips or a Parmesan-crusted crouton.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Adapted from “Roast Chicken and Other Stories” by Simon Hopkinson with Lindsey Bareham