Most winters, I'd be soup mad by now, but we've had an unusually mild season this year. It was over 70 in Baltimore not two weeks ago, with the Christmas tree still up (OK, we STILL haven't taken it down, but we're busy, dagnabit). That's just not right and certainly not soup weather.
On one of the days when it WAS chilly, I made a bowl of this root soup for dinner. Getting acquainted with the various vegetables that grow underground is best done when the ones that grow above ground are harder to find.
It's not that peas or aspargus or artichokes are necessarily superior to potatoes, carrots, parsnips or turnips, but root veggies do tend to lend themselves to heartier, heavier, warmer dishes like this soup that are best eaten with snow on the ground and boots in the hall.
If you're not familiar with parsnips, think of them as carrots with a touch of anise and parsley flavor. They're more complex than that, but they definitely have a carrot-family flavor. Turnips are more difficult to describe and seem to me to belong to a family all their own. They add great flavor here.
With all the flavor in the soup, I didn't feel the need to add any herbs here, but you can add some tarragon if you like. It goes well with the parsnip flavor. It won't take you long - this is a simple soup of the cut and boil variety.
Use a commercial or home-made vegetable stock with low sodium and serve with bread and cheese.
Parsnip and Turnip Soup
1 onion, peeled and diced fine
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 parsnips, peeled and diced into 1" pieces
1 carrot, peeled and diced into 1" pieces
2 turnips, peeled and diced into 1" cubes
1 stalk celery, cut into 1" pieces
1 large potato, peeled and diced into 1" cubes
4 cups vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
In a dutch oven or soup pot, heat the oil until it shimmers. Add the garlic, celery, and onion and sautee for about 60 seconds. Add the rest of the vegetables, cover, and sautee over medium-high heat stirring fairly frequently until the vegetables soften up and are easily pierced by a sharp knife, about seven-ten minutes. Add the stock and cook for 20 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring and scraping the bottom to get any vegetable fond that has stuck to the bottom into the soup.
Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Blend with an immersion blender and serve.