Saturday, March 21, 2015
My love of cauliflower is news to no one who reads my blog. And it works out well, because it’s a favorite vegetable of so many people I know, too. Its mild, sweet flavor and crunchy bite is almost universally appealing and can be used in tons of ways. It occurs to me that I should do a cauliflower recipe round-up one of these days, since I probably have at least fifteen recipes dedicated to this delightful white crucifer.
An easy favorite is my roasted cauliflower soup, and I’ve made variations like broccoli-cauli combo, artichoke and leek and pesto parmigiana. Today’s recipe adds parsnips to the mix for a fun change, creating a sightly different flavor profile that brings out the best of both vegetables. I don’t use Pastinaca sativa too often—though they did make a wonderful parsnip purée as a bed for slow-roasted salmon and lemony asparagus, a great meal for early spring.
I’m glad to feature this root today in this creamy white soup in my latest version of cauliflower soup that’s sure to please.
Cauliflower and Parsnip Soup
- 1 head cauliflower, with core and leaves, chopped
- 2 large parsnips, peels on, rough chop
- 3 cloves garlic, skins removed and smashed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large yellow or white onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoons white pepper (or black)
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- Several sprigs fresh thyme, tied
- 1-2 dried bay leaves
- 4-6 cups vegetable stock, preferably homemade
- 1/4-1 cup cream (approximate), optional
- Fresh nutmeg, grated (~1/4 teaspoon)
Please note that the above quantities do not need to be exact. Like any soup, you’ll futz with the ingredients and spices, tasting as you go to create a soup that tastes wonderful to you. For just a hint of parsnip, use less. For more parsnippityness, include more. Then you’ll add however much stock you need to accommodate the amount of vegetables you used, to however thick you like your soup. After you purée, taste: I often find myself adding more spices: it’s always better to start with less, bring the soup together, and adjust at the end, because you can never go back.
This recipe builds on the basic instructions for my roasted cauliflower soup, including about 2 cups of chopped parsnips to the roasting mix.The basic sequence looks like this:
1. Roast the cauliflower, parsnips, and garlic for about 20 minutes. (No need to peel the parsnips, and use the leaves and core of the cauliflower too.)
2. Sauté onions in olive oil with salt and pepper over medium heat about 6 minutes then add the roasted veggies and remaining spices, mixing to combine.
3. Add about 4 cups stock along with fresh thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer for about 20 minutes.
4. Remove the bay leaf and thyme and puree the soup. (A hand blender makes it easy.) Stir in cream to desired consistency, grate in fresh nutmeg, and reseason soup to taste. (Add more stock as needed to thin.)
5. Garnish as desired. (Shown here with whole grain garlic and parsley bread crumbs and a drizzle of olive oil.)
The parsnip is less popular than its orange cousin Daucus carota, yet it has a sweet flavor and some good nutrition that makes it worthy of attention. While it doesn’t have the carotenoids of a carrot (as you could glean from its ivory color), it has only about 75 calories for a medium root (100 grams) and is rich in fiber, vitamin C, folate, copper, and phosphorous, and has its own unique antioxidants like falcarinol and its derivatives, all beneficial to your health. More importantly, it’s a tantalizing addition to today’s tasty recipe.
What’s your favorite way to eat parsnips? Let me know in the comments below!
And stay in touch to see what happens in the next iteration of this soup…