If you're of the 'judge a chef by his soup' mindset, this vibrant bowlful from Marcus Samuelsson's new cookbook, Marcus Off Duty, should earn him some high points. Bright as the autumn sun and perfect for a cold day, the warm earthiness of the parsnips and vaguely floral sunchokes fills your mouth at first slurp.
The cream and lemon juice duke it out over which gets to leave the last impression, but really it's the cumin and peppery sweet spice of garam masala that lingers after you swallow. And that's a sip without what Samuelsson calls the 'garnish,' but which I call the 'salad,' seeing as I consumed more of it right off a fork than I did on the soup spoon. But it does elevate the soup, and I wanted some in every bite. Walnuts are toasted with olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice, then tossed with walnut oil, diced apple, parsley and tarragon. Something about the garlicky, tannic walnuts, sweet apple, and licorice notes from the tarragon is discordant but makes for an amazing mouthful, and turns the soup into a dang-I-just-nailed-that-dinner-party first course.
Why I picked this recipe: I love parsnips, but usually only have them roasted.
What worked: The soup was an masterful balancing act of flavors—some delicate, some bold.
What didn't: Nary a complaint.
Suggested tweaks: If you can't find the sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes), Samuelsson says you can simply sub in more parsnips, which I think wouldn't change the soup overmuch. On that note, it will be helpful to know that I got the 3 cups of diced parsnips out of just over 1 pound of untrimmed parsnips, and the 1 cup of sunchokes out of about 8 ounces before peeling. (So if you're going the all-parsnip route, buy about 1 1/2 pounds.)
Excerpted from Marcus Off Duty: The Recipes I Cook at Home © 2014 by Marcus Samuelsson. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
- Yield:Serves 6
- Active time: 50 minutes
- Total time:50 minutes
- For the Garnish:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 tablespoon walnut oil (see Note)
- 1 apple, cored and finely diced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For the Soup:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 cups peeled and diced parsnips
- 1 cup peeled and diced Jerusalem artichokes (see Note)
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- Kosher salt
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 cups water
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Freshly ground black pepper
Make the garnish: Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the walnuts and cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and lemon juice and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Drizzle in the walnut oil and remove from the heat. Let cool to room temperature, then stir in the apple, parsley, and tarragon. Season with salt and pepper.
Make the soup: Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the parsnips, Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, garam masala, cumin, turmeric, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook until the parsnips start to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chicken broth, cream, and water, bring to a simmer, and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes. Working in batches, carefully puree the soup in a blender. Return to the pot and stir in the lemon juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
To serve, divide the soup among six bowls. Add a spoonful of the apple-walnut garnish to the middle of each bowl.
Notes: Walnut oil is available in some markets, specialty stores, and online. Store in the refrigerator. Jerusalem artichokes are often called “sunchokes.” If you can’t find them, replace them with more parsnips.