I did my part at the recent Empty Bowls, and I’ve had soup on my mind ever since. So, I reached for that Irish standby, “Avoca Cafe Cookbook 2,” for some inspiration. That’s when I saw this recipe, which showcases a winter root vegetable I’ve only recently come to love: parsnips.
“Parsnips are an integral part of winter eating,” the cookbook’s author, Hugo Arnold, writes, “their nutty, robust flavor making them as good with roast meats as they are on their own.”
What makes this soup especially appealing is the addition of sauteed onion, which adds its own kind of sweetness. Then you add tart apple crisps for an appealing contrast of textures.
A few words about garnishes, because this recipe has four options: All of these are optional, and that includes the apple crisps. The soup is the star here, creamy and rich and wonderful.
Somehow, I managed to have a can of chestnut puree in the pantry, so I could taste it as the recipe called for. Yes, it was a nice addition to the soup because of its sweet nuttiness. But, seriously, if you don’t have it, you won’t be missing out. And you won’t be faced with my dilemma, which is: What do I do with the rest of the can of chestnut puree?
You can also make this soup vegan easily by using vegetable stock and sauteing the onion in a little olive oil.
Roasted Parsnip Soup with Apple Crisps
1 Granny Smith or other tart apple (optional)
3 parsnips, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, peeled finely chopped
1 potato, peeled and finely diced
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
2 1/2 cups light chicken stock
4 teaspoons creme fraiche or sour cream (optional)
4 teaspoons chestnut puree (optional)
1 tablespoons snipped chives (optional)
To make the apple crisps well ahead, preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Core the apple and thinly slice. Lay the slices out on a baking tray and place in the oven for 1 hour or until dried and crisp.
When ready to make the soup, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the diced parsnips in the olive oil, season well and roast in the oven for 20 minutes or until well colored.
In a stockpot, gently saute the onion and potato in the butter over a low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the roasted parsnips and stock, and simmer for 20 minutes or until all the vegetables are soft. Allow to cool slightly, then liquify, using a food processor or immersion blender. Reheat and check the seasoning. (If your stock is salty, you may not need to add more.)
Garnish each bowl with a teaspoon of creme fraiche or sour cream, a teaspoon of chestnut puree and the apple crisps, along with a few snipped chives.
Makes 4 servings.
Adapted from “Avoca Cafe Cookbook 2” by Hugo Arnold with Leylie Hayes