In my mind I see a woman, head slightly bent against the wind and hefting long skirts. There is still a blustery nip in the air. Fields lie fallow, awaiting spring. She walks purposefully across the yard, her thatched-roof cottage behind her, cozy smoke rising from its stone chimney. She lifts a heavy door, and carefully treads down to the cool, dark root cellar. In the scant light, she can see that winter stores are nearing their end. “What to make for dinner?” she silently frets, when she recalls the few sweet parsnips and some tart, late-harvest apples she had tucked away before the first frost. “Well, then. It’ll be Parsnip and Apple Soup!”
A delightful surprise can be tasted in every bite of this lightly sweet and fragrant cream soup. Parsnips, somewhat reminiscent in flavor and texture of other vegetables (celery, carrots, turnips, potatoes), look like fat white carrots and have a unique sweet and nutty taste all their own. A mellow sweet-savory marriage with apples brings a lightness and dimension, with depths of flavors as elusive as my imagination…
2 pounds parsnips
1 pound (2 medium) tart cooking apples
4 tablespoons butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
⅓ cup flour
1 package (32 oz.) vegetable broth
¼ cup Irish whiskey (optional)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
2 fresh sage leaves
1 cup heavy cream
Pare and trim parsnips. Chop coarsely and set aside. Pare, core and coarsely chop apples. Add to parsnips.
Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot and sauté until soft but not browned, about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add minced garlic and stir for another minute.
Stir in flour until thick paste forms. Gradually add broth, stirring into flour mixture until smooth. Add whiskey, parsnips, apples, salt, pepper, and fresh sage leaves. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 25 to 30 minutes.
Stir in heavy cream. Lightly purée using an immersion blender, traditional blender or food processor. Reheat if necessary. Serve warm, garnished with additional fresh sage, if you like.
Makes approximately 6 1-cup servings.