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Healthy & Delicious: Parsnip Soup with Vanilla

Editor's note: On Mondays, Kristen Swensson Sturt of Cheap, Healthy, Good swings by these parts to share healthy and delicious recipes with us. Take it away, Kristen!

[Photograph: Kristen Swensson Sturt]

Frequently overshadowed by more colorful produce, the humble parsnip deserves more props than it often receives. The slender, goldenish root vegetable possesses the sweetness of a carrot and a slight starchiness that suggests a potato, all while packing a nice little nutritional punch. A good source of potassium, parsnips are also high in fiber, as well as vitamins C and K. They're much easier to peel than rutabagas, too. So there's that.

Unbeknownst to most, the parsnip has a secret weapon in its vast cache of, y'know, weapons that are less secret. It complements a stunning range of flavors. Sweet, savory, spicy - you name it, and the parsnip goes with it. Take vanilla, for instance.

Adapted from Marco Canora's Salt to Taste, the very-simple Parsnip Soup with Vanilla has a grand total of six ingredients: water, salt, pepper, butter, parsnips, and half a vanilla bean. Though the vanilla is always discernable, and becomes more assertive as the dish sits, it never overwhelms the parsnippy goodness. I've made the soup three times in the last three weeks, and plan on making it again soon.

One recipe note: Try to use parsnips with slender tops, since thicker parsnips possess woody cores that might have to be strained out. Otherwise, all you need is a knife and a pot, and you're golden. Just like your parsnips.

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