Aromatic soup proves that parsnips deserve a place at your table

  • By Sarah Jackson Herald Writer
  • Monday, March 8, 2010 7:32pm
  • Life

Why don’t more people cook parsnips?

Yes, they’re seriously ugly and look like they’d be bland.

But they truly taste great and are a welcome break from carrots and potatoes.

I tried them two ways for Week 16 of the eat-local Dark Days Challenge and both were excellent.

I started with a recipe for spicy parsnip soup from a co-worker. She had adapted a recipe from blogger Jane Spice, who specializes in using spices with flair.

Though I had thrown parsnips in the crock pot with pot roast earlier in the challenge and quite enjoyed them, I had no idea how much they’d shine when roasted in preparation for the soup.

They are sweet, but not cloyingly so, and have a wonderful carrotlike texture with a luxurious, buttery finish.

They’d make a brilliant side dish for just about any meal.

In the soup, a basic puree-style concoction, those buttery flavors moved to the background to become a neutral base for the aromatic spices of coriander, cumin, turmeric, chili powder, paprika, cayenne and dried thyme.

Much like the squash soup I made earlier in the challenge, it was pure comfort food that seemed to get better the next day.

Parsnips also seem to keep really well in the refrigerator.

Mine were so old — six weeks, perhaps — I couldn’t remember where I bought them. I think they were from Nash’s Organic Produce of Sequim from the Ballard farmers market.

I used garlic from Anselmo Farms of Machias, also from the market, and onions from Othello via SPUD, a local food delivery service, and broth from Sea Breeze Farm on Vashon Island, purchased at the U District farmers market.

I cheated with QFC leeks, also old, and mostly imported spices.

Never one to waste time making piddly portions, I tripled the recipe and put most of the 12 cups it made in the freezer. (What had possessed me to buy 3 pounds of parsnips anyway?)

Now I have numerous low-fat lunches ready for work.

And guess what — they’re local.

Find links to my local food sources at and discover more Dark Days meal ideas at

Sarah Jackson: 425-339-3037,

Spicy parsnip soup

1pound parsnips, peeled

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

1medium onion, chopped

1leek, bottom half only, chopped (optional)

2cloves garlic, minced

1quart broth

1/2teaspoon coriander

1/2teaspoon cumin

1/2teaspoon turmeric

1/4teaspoon chili powder

2teaspoons paprika

1/2teaspoon dried thyme

Cayenne to taste (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Wash, peel and chop the parsnips into 1-inch chunks of roughly equal size. Toss with a liberal application of olive oil, salt and pepper and roast them for about an hour or until tender.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and leek and cook until soft or, if you like, caramelized.

Add garlic, spices and thyme, and stir for about a minute. Add the broth and parsnips. Stir well, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and puree, using an immersion blender or in batches in a standard blender. Makes about four cups.

Adapted from

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