Parsnips seem to have something of a bad reputation and I can't imagine why. They are sweet and delicious, like a white carrot. I picked up a few pounds of them, along with a few rutabagas, from Root Cellar Farm at the Los Ranchos winter growers' market.
Not many farmers grow them, because they take all season to mature, but the great thing is that they can be stored in the ground all winter. They become sweeter after the frost, so you just leave them where they grew until you're ready to dig some up and eat them.
This delicate soup is dairy-free and takes only 20 minutes to prepare. Lately I've come to believe that garnishes are the key to a really great soup experience. The soup is very tasty on its own, but with the garnish it's truly delightful – don't skip the leeks.
2 T. olive oil
1/2 C. diced onion
3 C. diced parsnips
1 sprig rosemary
1/4 t. black pepper
4 C. chicken or vegetable stock
1 leek, thinly sliced white and green parts only
Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium flame. Add onion and cook until just softened. Add parsnips, rosemary, pepper and stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer about 15 minutes, until parsnips are tender. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil on medium flame. Add sliced leeks, season with salt and fry, stirring often, until bits begin to brown. Remove from heat and reserve. Remove the rosemary and puree the soup. Add the lemon zest, then add lemon juice and salt to taste. Garnish with leeks. Serves 2 to 4.