Thursday, September 25, 2008
Root vegetables are starting to arrive at farm stands and in the boxes of CSA Farm Share Supporters. If you are a locavore, and love green markets, a farm share might also interest you. My daughters, both of whom regularly put me to shame, are firmly committed to CSA. They contract with local farmers who, weekly, provide them with seasonally available produce. That means they cook with whatever is packed in their weekly boxes; at this time of year that includes parsnips - lots of them. Parsnips were originally cultivated in the Mediterranean and carried in the rucksacks of the Roman legions as they marched across Europe. The parsnip has a mild, carrot-like flavor that when cooked and pureed becomes a silky bisque with a flavor all it's own. I know my use of the word bisque is a misnomer; this delight contains no seafood, and, therefore, should be called a soup. I can't, however, bring myself to call something so smooth and silken a soup. Serve this with fresh bread and a salad for a light fall supper. It's also great as a first course for holiday meals. It freezes well, so it can prepared well in advance of serving. It's quick, easy and inexpensive, so why not give it a try.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 cups thinly sliced onions
8 to 12 cups (2 to 3 lbs.) parsnips, peeled and thinly sliced
6 cups (1/1/2 lbs.) baking potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
2 teaspoon salt + salt to taste
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup whole milk
Garnish: shredded basil, nutmeg
1) Heat butter and oil in a large (6-quart) stock pot. Add onions and cook over medium heat until onion are soft but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add parsnips and potatoes; sprinkle with 2 teaspoons salt and toss to coat. Cover, cook, stirring occasionally, over low heat until tender, about 20 minutes.
2) Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Cover partially and cook until vegetables are very tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.
3) Puree soup using an immersion blender. Alternatively, use a blender and puree soup in batches until perfectly smooth. Stir in milk; cook just to heat through. Season with salt to taste. Ladle into bowls and garnish with basil and a pinch of nutmeg. Yield: 6 servings.
Cook's Note: Turnips can substituted for parsnips.