Long and lovely parsnips sit unassuming on the shelves of the grocery store (or better still, damp with earth from the farmer's fields late in the harvest season). We walk by them, not quite sure what to do with them, surely their coloured cousins the carrots must be more nutritious?
While it is true that carrots are higher in most of the vitamin family, parsnips are rich with minerals (including a healthy dose of magnesium, which is one of our favourite minerals to talk about around these parts) as well as dietary fibre. And the vitamins that parsnips have are nothing to dismiss either. They have sizeable measures of Vitamin A, B, C, & E as well as folic acid and thiamin.
Looking for the balance between sweet and salty, nourishing and comforting we often believe that these things function in opposition to each other. We believe we must choose between one or the other - will we indulge this evening or will we contain ourselves to following the rules? The beauty of parsnips is that you don't need to find any middle ground. They are both sweet and nourishing, they are the perfect medium for a savoury dinner and they are by all definitions comforting. They satiate an in between place in our bodies and our souls at the same time.
Unfamiliar at first, the humble parsnip will easily find it's way into your regular routine. It becomes a natural companion to potatoes, carrots, beets, turnips. You will forget that there was ever a time you wondered what exactly a parsnip was.
If you're in doubt make this soup. It will take you half an hour to prep and another half hour to cook. Put it on early and make time to nourish your mind with a book or a walk while it simmers quietly on your stove.
Celery Root, Pear and Parsnip Soup
adapted from the Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook
by Alissa Sergersten and Tom Malterre
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or organic butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium celery roots, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 large parsnip, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
2 ripe pears, cored and chopped into 1 inch cubes
3 garlic gloves, finely minced or put through a garlic press
1 teaspoon dried thyme, OR 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
6 cups organic chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup dry white wine or 2tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 - 2 teaspoons sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil or butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and sauté for 5 - 7 minutes or until soft. Add the celery root, parsnip, pears, garlic, thyme, stock and wine/apple cider vinegar. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until all vegetables are soft and ready to puree. Blend using an immersion blender in the pot, or let cool slightly and transfer the soup to a stand blender to puree.
Reheat after blending and serve as a hearty side dish. This soup also makes a wonderful main dish with the addition of wilted greens, sautéed mushrooms and beans of your choice (navy, kidney, black...)