There were three forlorn parsnips in my refrigerator yesterday, wedged behind a bulbous celery root, buried beneath a floppy pillow of lettuce. Somehow, these lonely roots escaped the chicken dinner I'd made earlier in the week, when I scattered onions, carrots and potatoes around a chicken while it roasted. It was all for the best.
Yesterday was an indisputable soup day -- rainy, cold and blustery. When I surveyed my refrigerator for dinner inspiration and discovered the forgotten roots, I instantly knew what to make: a creamy vegetable soup. Now, before you begin to consider any caloric implications, realize that when I say "creamy," there is, in fact, no cream in this soup. The method is to simmer the vegetables in chicken stock until they are tamed and transformed to baby food softness and then puree and whisk with milk. The resulting velvety smooth and rich soup will seem like it's laden with cream, when in fact it is not. Now that's what I call kitchen magic.
If you haven't tried celery root (also known as celeriac), it's high time you did. Don't let its gnarly exterior dissuade you -- its inner flesh is nutty and mildly fragrant with celery. Once cooked, its flavor is mellow and sublime, which provides a soothing balance to the sweet and earthy parsnip. Thyme and garlic round out the flavors of this slurp-worthy bowl of soup, which will be sure to keep you warm and comforted in the cold weather.
Parsnip and Celery Root Soup
Active time: 15 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 pound parsnips, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 pound celery root, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
4 cups chicken stock
2 sprigs thyme
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium. Add the onion and saute until translucent without coloring, about 3 minutes. Add the parsnips, celery root and garlic and saute until the vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low; cover the pot and simmer until the vegetables are very soft, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs.
Carefully transfer the soup to a food processor (or use an immersion blender) and puree until smooth. Return the soup to the pot and stir in the milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg. If the soup is too thick, add more milk to your desired consistency and taste for seasoning. Gently heat over medium-low until warm. Serve immediately.
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