For a long time I thought I disliked parsnips, putting them in the same category as turnips and writing them off. Fortunately I gave these root vegetable a second chance a couple of years ago and discovered a new favorite. Parsnips are actually less like turnips and more like a white carrot with a peppery taste which turns mellow and sweet when roasted. I’ve prepared them in all sorts of ways; added to a lentil curry, in a spring vegetable braise and simply roasted with a little olive oil and eaten straight off the pan. Their earthy flavor is versatile and adds a lovely little something to all kinds of meals.
Hidden in the ground while they mature, parsnips offer the reward of surprise when you grow them yourself. Nick experienced such a surprise when he pulled up a row of parsnips we planted late last summer. With our modest and proud harvest and the though of spring carrots I had seen at the market, I immediately thought of soup. I wanted to create something that would wake up the taste buds while banishing the last chills of the passing winter. The silky mix of pureed carrot parsnip soup, spiked with warming spices and topped with roasted parsnips fit the bill perfectly.
First, I roasted the vegetables to bring out their natural sweetness while adding depth of flavor. Spices such as turmeric and cinnamon add another layer of complexity. These spices are both full of anti-oxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties as well. Ginger, another natural anti-inflammatory, is finely grated and stirred into the soup at the end. When it’s done the soup becomes robust with an array of natural flavors and what’s more, with a base of parsnips and carrots the dish is a great source of Vitamin C, folic acid, magnesium, beta-carotene and potassium.
8 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
5 medium parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
1 large red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 (15 oz) can light coconut milk
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon grated ginger
salt and pepper to taste
1 parsnip, finely chopped
1 tablespoon coconut oil
3 tablespoon minced cilantro
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Toss the carrots, parsnips, onion, and garlic with the 2 tablespoons coconut oil, spices, and salt. Roast for 25-30 minutes, until slightly browned and caramelized.
- Transfer the roasted vegetables to a pot and add the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the vegetables are cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. Alternatively, carefully transfer the mix to a blender in two batches and blend throughly.
- While the vegetables are simmering, make the garnish. Toss the remaining parsnip with the remaining 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and roast, at 450 degrees, for 10-15 minutes, until crispy and brown.
- Stir the lemon juice, grated ginger, and coconut milk into the puree. Taste, and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.
- Serve, topped with crispy parsnips and minced cilantro.