Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Roasted Parsnip and Sweet Potato Soup

I love roasted root vegetables. One of our Thanksgiving side dishes last year involved seven different kinds--sweet potato, celery root, golden beets, baby turnips, watermelon radish, carrots, and parsnips. They were cut into small dice, tossed with olive oil and salt, and roasted until tender. Unsurprisingly, this simple dish was a big hit at the holiday table and I hope to make it a staple.

We had several parsnips left, and while I love to eat them straight off the foil-lined roasting pan while they are still piping hot, I wanted to do something a little different. We also had a couple of big Japanese sweet potatoes (from a CSA) hanging around. Because they were white, not orange, I thought they'd work nicely with the parsnips. Japanese sweet potatoes aren't as sweet as the more familiar orange ones, and their white color wouldn't alter the color of the soup. They got roasted, too, and both veg were pureed in a blender with the addition of a quart of chicken stock. (You may use vegetable stock, to make this dish vegan. Omit the bacon garnish, too, of course.)

I think parsnips have a citrusy flavor, so I added similarly citrusy coriander seed and a bit of lemon zest to bring that quality forward.

Roasted Parsnip and Sweet Potato Soup

1 lb parsnips
2 white (Japanese) sweet potatoes
Olive oil
1 quart chicken stock
2/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Freshly ground pepper
Chopped scallions and bacon, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400°F. Peel parsnips, trim ends, and cut in half. Cut wide end in half again. Peel potatoes and cut them into chunks about the size of the parsnips. Toss with olive oil and salt and arrange in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast for 40 minutes to 1 hour, until very tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature.

Using a blender, puree potatoes and parsnips with chicken stock. You'll need to do this in 2 or 3 batches so the potatoes don't gum up the blades. Pour the puree into a 2 quart pot and turn the heat on to low. Gently stir in the milk. If the soup seems too thick, add more stock or milk. Season with ground coriander and lemon zest and a couple generous grinds of black pepper. Taste for seasoning and add salt, if necessary.

Serve hot, garnished with chopped scallions and chopped bacon.

Serves 4-6.

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