There were four lonely parsnips in my refrigerator yesterday. Somehow, they missed the chicken dinner I made earlier in the week, when I scattered onions, rutabagas, and potatoes around the chicken while it roasted. The parsnips were meant to be included, but were inadvertently left behind in the vegetable crisper, minding their own business nestled between the gypsy peppers and fennel. It was all for the best.
Yesterday was an indisputable soup day: cold, blustery and rainy. As I surveyed my refrigerator for inspiration, I eyed the forgotten parsnips and instantly knew what I would make – Cream of Parsnip Soup. I found some celery hiding behind the fennel in the crisper, and reached for an onion in my onion basket. And, of course, I had a quart of chicken stock that I made from the aforementioned roasted chicken. With a little cooking and blending, these solitary ingredients transformed themselves into a silky rich soup. Kitchen magic at its best.
Cream of Parsnip Soup
The sweet and nutty flavor of parsnip is evened out by the celery and and chicken stock. You can substitute 2 cups chopped celery root for the celery stalks for a softer flavor.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 celery stalks, diced
3 large parsnips, peeled and diced (about 3 cups)
4 cups (1 liter) chicken stock
4 sage leaves
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup (125 ml.) heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until they begin to sweat. Add celery. parsnips and garlic and sauté one minute. Add 3 cups chicken stock, sage and bay leaf. Simmer, covered, until vegetables are very soft, about 25 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf and sage leaves. Purée soup until smooth in a food processor or with an immersion blender. Return soup to pot and stir in cream. Thin soup to desired consistency with additional chicken stock. Heat gently over medium heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.