This simple vegetable purée has a creamy texture yet is healthful and wholesome. You can garnish it variously, but parsnip crisps highlight the vegetable’s yin-yang of sweet and nippy.
Makes 12 or more cups.
¼ cup light vegetable oil such as canola
2 leeks, trimmed, slit lengthwise almost to the root, rinsed and sliced
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
1 celery rib, chopped
2 pounds parsnips, saving one fat parsnip for garnish
1 apple or pear, peeled, cored and chopped
1-inch segment fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons lemon juice
8 cups liquid: vegetable or chicken stock or water in any combination
About 2 teaspoons powdered ginger
Salt and pepper to taste
For the garnish:
Light vegetable oil
In a large pot gently heat the vegetable oil. Add the leeks and stir to soften them. Add the carrot and celery and soften them too. Saving one fat parsnip for garnish, add the sliced parsnips and gradually stir to cook them. Do not let the vegetables brown. Add the apple or pear, ginger, thyme and lemon juice. Finally add the liquid. Cover the pot, bring to a boil and simmer to cook the vegetables through, about 30 minutes. Let the soup cool. With a blender or food mill purée the solids until the texture is smooth. Gradually season it to taste with powdered ginger, salt and pepper.
To make the garnish, while the soup is cooking, peel the remaining parsnip. Shave off thin lengthwise strips. Drop them into a bowl of ice water; as they chill they will curl into interesting shapes. Before deep-frying, drain and dry the shavings thoroughly.
Heat the oil in a pot for deep-frying. Drop a few of the dry parsnip shavings into the hot oil. When they begin to color and crisp, remove them with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels. Continue until all are done and sprinkle with a little salt.
To serve, reheat the soup and check for balance of seasonings. Ladle it into warm serving bowls and top each with a few parsnip crisps.