At the beginning of the week I had no idea that this would find its way into tonight's menu, but I'm sure glad that it did. It all started yesterday, when I groggily stumbled across campus to our weekly seminar. I almost didn't go to seminar because I've been sick and still felt pretty bad (hence the groggy stumbling), but the gods must have been looking out for me because last week I scheduled a meeting before seminar, thus forcing me to go. Thursdays are generally the only day that I take this path across campus, which is convenient because it's also the only day that the MSU student organic farm sets up a stand (right along my path) selling their produce. They haven't had the stand since early November, but it was back this week. Their produce looked great and, given that I've been going through extreme farmers' market withdrawal, I knew that I had to buy something. I didn't want too much because I had to lug anything that I bought to the meeting and seminar, and then back across campus to my car. I decided on some beautiful parsnips and a bunch of swiss chard. I was not in a state of mind to actually plan what I was going to do with these things, but it worked out fabulously.
I LOVE roasted parsnips. In fact, they're probably my favorite vegetable to roast, along with sweet potatoes. But I wanted to try something new, so once I got home I immediately searched through my flagged parsnip recipes. Nothing much jumped out at me, so I searched through some of my favorite blogs. I was intrigued by a recipe from The Perfect Pantry for parsnip and pear soup. I happened to have a ripe pear, so I figured I had to try it out. I was too exhausted to cook yesterday, but had a bit more energy tonight to whip some up.
Parsnip and pear soup (adapted from The Perfect Pantry)
1 lb parsnips (about 5 medium to large ones), peeled and ends trimmed (cut in half lengthwise if they're really thick)
1 onion, peeled and quartered
2 garlic cloves, whole and unpeeled
1 Tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt
freshly ground pepper
1 medium pear, peeled and roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups chicken or veggie stock
1 tsp dried thyme
Put parsnips, onion, and garlic cloves on a baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss around so that everything is well coated. Roast at 375 until parsnips begin to brown, about 30 min. Let cool for about 10 min. Cut parsnips into chunks and peel garlic. Combine parsnips, garlic, onions, pear, stock, and thyme in a medium pot. You want stock to almost cover veggies, so add more stock or water if you need to. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for 20 min. Blend with an immersion blender or in batches in a regular blender or food processor. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serves 3.
Let's just say that I have a new favorite soup. This is amazing. I'm sure that it didn't hurt that I used fresh, local, and organic parsnips, but this would be delicious anyway. The sweetness of the roasted parsnip pairs perfectly with the pear (hehe...), and the garlic and onion provide a nice subtle contrast. I saved about half of my parsnips to roast later, but I may end up making more of this soup. It was also very soothing for my sore throat, which was exactly what I needed. Lydia (from The Perfect Pantry) includes this as a great recipe for Thanksgiving. We don't normally do soups at Thanksgiving, but I may have to start a new tradition.