January 4, 2011

creamy parsnip and carrot soup

On my first morning back in New York after Christmas-ing and blizzarding in New Jersey, I dragged myself, slightly woozy with a head cold, over to the little Friday greenmarket that sets up on west 97th near Columbus.

The market is small but well-equipped, and open year-round (yay!). I like the greenmarket in winter; I don't easily tire of root vegetables, squash, or apples. And as long as I have a steady supple of kale I'm a happy girl (the yogi thinks this is endlessly hilarious). Come March I may change my tune, but for now things are looking good.

My market selections were the usual for this time of year: whole milk and plain yogurt from Ronnybrook, apples and pears, kale, baby turnips, parsnips, carrots, onions, an enormous head of Napa cabbage, and a dozen eggs. I wanted to grab a few more things, but when the bags are groaning and I can barely scuttle from one stall to the next under the weight, I've got to admit it's time to stop.

In my congested fog I unfortunately managed to lose a butternut squash - I remember giving it to the guy weighing the produce at the farmstand, and probably paid for it, but when I was unpacking my loot at home, no butternut. Bummer. I considered returning to claim my lost squash. It was a plump beauty. But by that time I had already begun sauteing onions, parsnips, and carrots to make this soup. It smelled so good. And I was quite hungry. I decided I could wait till next week for squash.

All was forgiven once I dug into a steaming bowl of this creamy, golden goodness. Parsnips and carrots mingled together to create a sweet, earthy, nutty base, with apple to brighten things up, the throat-tingling heat of fresh ginger, and hints of smoky cumin and herbaceous coriander seed. Gussied up with a swirl of tangy yogurt and crispy toasted pumpkin seeds, plus a drizzle of peppery extra-virgin olive oil (because I like to add a drizzle of olive oil to pretty much everything), the soup was warming from the inside out. Good preparation for a cozy afternoon nap.


creamy parsnip and carrot soup
Makes about 6 cups.

1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for drizzling on top
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
2 parsnips, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds (about 1-1/2 cups)
4 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds (about 2 cups)
1 apple, peeled and chopped (about 1 cup)
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp coriander seeds, crushed in mortar and pestle or roughly ground in a spice grinder
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
sea salt and black pepper
1/4 cup pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds)
1/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  1. Heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot.
  2. Saute the onion, parsnip, and carrot, seasoned with a pinch of salt, until lightly caramelized and starting to soften, 5 to 8 minutes.
  3. Stir in the apple, ginger, garlic, coriander, and cumin, and cook for another minute. Pour in enough water to cover the vegetables (about 5 cups), and stir to release the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add another pinch of salt and a couple of grinds of black pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer until the carrots and parsnips are very tender, 30 to 40 minutes.
  4. While the soup simmers, toast the pumpkin seeds over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed pan (I use my cast iron skillet for this), until they are golden and fragrant. Remove from pan immediately and toss with a sprinkling of salt.
  5. Allow the soup to cool for a few minutes before pureeing in a blender in small batches (no more than one-third full, with a towel on top of the lid and firm pressure to avoid a blender volcano!). Rinse out the soup pot and add the pureed soup. Reheat for a few minutes and add more salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. Serve the soup with a spoonful of yogurt swirled into each bowl and a sprinkle of pepitas on top. And drizzle of olive oil, too, if you like.

6 comments:

  1. Looks beautiful. Sounds delicious. I think you might need a granny cart :)

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  2. Yum! This looks perfect for a cold day.

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  3. Tracy - ha! And you are right. I have actually been considering a granny cart for a while now; I should just take the plunge.

    Thanks, southern hostess, and welcome :)

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  4. I had a granny cart for years. I wonder where it went? 'tis the season of root vegetables and you have embraced it deliciously.

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  5. Your soup looks beautiful - I agree that adrizzle of olive oil perks up almost anything! I hope your butternut turns up - how funny! Sadly, last week I left a cabbage on a train... so I know the feeling!

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  6. thanks, Claudia! Yup granny carts are the way to go in new york, can't believe I don't have one yet for market trips!

    Hi Katie - thanks! Funny that you lost a cabbage around the same time - must have been something in the air, a week of vegetable disconnection?

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