Parsnips are one of my favorite root vegetables. They're intensely sweet and earthy, but on their own they can be a little bland. The key to turning them into a creamy soup with a clean, pure flavor is to reach for some unexpected aromatics that both complement and contrast, like jalapeño, ginger, and coriander seed.
Why this recipe works:
- A base of aromatic vegetables like onion, leek, garlic, and celery provide the foundation for the parsnips' natural sweetness.
- Complementary and contrasting aromatics, like citrusy coriander seed, spicy jalapeño, and fresh-yet-warm ginger, add just enough dimension to make things interesting.
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
- 3 medium yellow onions, diced (about 3 cups)
- 2 stalks celery, diced (about 2/3rds cup)
- 1 leek, white and light green parts only, diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 6 medium cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed and roughly chopped
- 1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled sliced
- 3 pounds parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 quart homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock or vegetable stock
- Water, as needed
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Fresh lemon juice, to taste
- Whipped cream lightly flavored with ground allspice, for garnish
- Cayenne pepper, for garnish
In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add coriander seed and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add onion, celery, leek, garlic, jalapeño, and ginger, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes.
Add parsnips and stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until parsnips are tender, about 20 minutes. Using a blender or immersion blender, puree soup until smooth (it will be thick at this point). Season with salt and pepper. For an extra-silky texture, press soup into a bowl through a fine-mesh strainer. Thin soup to desired consistency with water or aditional stock and season once more with salt and pepper. Add lemon juice 1 teaspoon at a time to taste.
Wipe out Dutch oven and return soup. Reheat over medium heat, stirring, until hot. Serve, spooning dollops of spiced whipped cream and a sprinkle of cayenne on each bowl.
Blender or immersion blender, fine-mesh strainer (optional)