A seasonal favorite for many people during the cold winter season, parsnips can be baked, blanched, sautéed or pureed, adding their subtle sweetness to a variety of different dishes. But none warms the body quite like this delicious soup from James Beard House featured chef Mary Cleaver.
Makes 8 to 10 servings
For the Spice Oil
1 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon cumin Seeds, crushed
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed
1 teaspoon aleppo pepper
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
For the Soup
2 ½ pounds parsnips, peeled and diced
1/2 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
10 cups vegetable stock, warmed
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon toasted whole cumin seed, ground
1 teaspoon toasted whole coriander seed, ground
To make the spice oil, add all the ingredients to a saucepan and warm over a gentle to medium flame stirring so as not to burn the spices for about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool allowing the spices to further infuse the oil until cool then strain and set aside until ready to use.
To make the soup, preheat oven to 450 F. Toss the parsnips with ¼ cup of the olive oil, salt, and pepper in an oven proof roasting pan. Add 2 cups of the stock, cover, and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 20 to 25 minutes. Uncover and roast until the liquid is absorbed and the parsnips are a deep golden brown, about 10 minutes.
Heat the remaining ¼ cup of olive oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add onions and sauté until translucent, about 8 minutes, then add cumin and coriander. Saute for about 5 minutes or until the spices are fragrant, then add the remaining 8 cups of warmed stock and the braised parsnips to the pot. Bring to a boil and simmer about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully puree the soup in a blender and blend until smooth, in batches if necessary. If a more silken texture is desired, pass the puree through a fine sieve. You may need to add more liquid if the parsnips are particularly starchy and the puree is too thick. Adjust seasoning and serve with a drizzle of spice oil.
Since there is no cream in this soup, it freezes particularly well. Just be sure to cool it completely and uncovered, then cover tightly and freeze.
If Aleppo pepper is unavailable, a touch of cayenne or chili powder will suffice. Just add those more spicy options in ½ teaspoon intervals so that the end result isn't too spicy.
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