We planted parsnips for the first time this year, on the theory that we had known success with every other root vegetable. The parsnips are a happy sight, their greens growing tall (greens are toxic, sadly) and flourishing beneath the soil as well.

They’re not an uber vegetable, like kale – one blogger called parsnips “an ingenue waiting to be discovered in this country” — but they’re a good source of potassium, vitamin C and fiber. Our crop is the varietal Harris Model, from Jung.

I love parsnips as a component of a roasted vegetable medley: beets, carrots, onions, sweet potatoes, and parsnips. Roasted slowly, the natural sugars come out and create a multi-colored dish that I can make an entire meal of.

But that’s a little johnny-one-note, and we’ve already had several rounds of roasted veg this summer. So I started looking around for other parsnip recipes. My mom used to cut them in half and sauté them in butter until they were crisp around the edges, sprinkled with a little salt and pepper. A yummy memory from my childhood. If you have a favorite parsnip recipe, send it along!

I found several parsnip soup recipes that looked appealing. Parsnips were the dominant item, but some called for a potato, a sweet potato, carrots or leeks. I decided to go the potato route to preserve the bright white color.

parsnips

parsnips

Parsnip Soup

Several large parsnips, peeled, cut into 1” chunks

One potato, peeled, cut into 1” chunks

Chicken/veg stock

Water

1 onion, roughly chopped

1-3 cloves garlic

Saute the onion in a little knob of butter, 1-2 Tablespoons, in your soup pot. When it’s softened, add the garlic and sauté for another minute or two. Then add the parsnips and potatoes, and a mixture of chicken stock and water, just enough to cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer til tender, 25-30 minutes. Puree the mixture in batches in a food processor, or use your immersion blender in the pot. Puree until very smooth (this will diminish any fibrous bits of parsnip). Add ½ c half-and-half or milk for creaminess. If it’s still too thick, add a little more stock.  Season with salt, pepper and a dash of cayenne. Reheat to desired temp. Serve in bowls, topped with a sprinkle of minced chives. Or a scattering of bacon bits, for a slightly heartier dish. Serves 2 as a meal, 4 as an appetizer.

Sandy Johnson is a journalist and a gardener, equally passionate about both. She lives in Alexandria, VA.  Visit her on her blog, Grassroots & Gardening.

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