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Creamy Parsnip and Chickpea Soup

March 21, 2009

Creamy Parsnip and Chickpea soup

I will admit it: I’m a little bit tired of soup. I’m extremely tired of winter, and of root vegetables and lentils, and of meals that are primarily beige and orange. I am ready for some tender, leafy greens. For zucchini. For tomatoes! Oh spring, you cannot come soon enough. (And yes, I’m aware that technically it is spring right now, but in my neck of the woods, it’s really not. It’s still cold and farmers’ markets are a long ways away.)

But you know what? Even though this is soup, and it’s made of root vegetables, and is pretty much beige and orange, oh it’s delicious. It is delicious enough that I feel a little less frustrated with winter. It is warm and silky and full of bright flavors, a little spicy, a little sweet. Eating this for lunch all week might help me to forget that it’s still not above 50 degrees outside.

This is one of those recipes I threw together without having a single clue if it would turn out well in the end. I rarely cook with parsnips. I didn’t have much else in the pantry to add to the pot. I contemplated some potatoes and some carrots, but in the end, I decided to let the parsnips stand (mostly) alone, and I am glad I did.

Soup Ingredients

There’s not a whole lot going on here, vegetable-wise. In fact, when I look at that picture all I can think is that it’s definitely winter food. And that I should really think about making my own vegetable stock. The jar in the back contains Israeli couscous—there’s only about a cup in here, but it adds a nice bit of texture to the soup. I can almost never find Israeli couscous at the market, but Trader Joe’s started carrying it here in Boston recently. Yay, Trader Joe’s! (And yes, I did wash those parsnips before I cut them up and cooked them.)

Parsnips in a bowl

I used three parsnips, two about medium size and one gigantor size. You don’t have to chop them up uniformly, as they’re all going to pureed in the end anyway. Just cut them small enough so they don’t take a million years to cook through and become soft. I can’t believe I never cook with parsnips. They have such a great flavor: slightly sweet, a little sharp and peppery, like a very, very mild radish. I bet they would be excellent mashed with potatoes. And according to the Wikipedia, the Romans considered them an aprodisiac, so, you know, you might think about adding them to the menu the next time you’re cooking dinner for your paramour. Just a thought.

Red onion

I was really unsure about using red onion instead of white, but I already had half a red onion waiting to be used up, so in it went. And it worked out great. If you have a white or a yellow onion, though, feel free to use it. This is half a large onion, diced, which probably comes to almost a cup.

Creamy Parsnip and Chickpea Soup

  • 1 T. canola or olive oil
  • 1/2 a large red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 parsnips, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamom
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. Moroccan seasoning
  • salt
  • 1 14-ounce can of tomatoes
  • 1 32-ounce container of vegetable stock
  • 1 c. Israeli couscous
  • 1 14-ounce can of chickpeas, with liquid

Heat the oil in a large soup pot. When it’s hot, add the onions and saute them for about 3 or 4 minutes. I let them brown just a little, but that’s mostly because I wasn’t paying attention. Once they’re at least soft and slightly translucent, if not a little browned, add the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds. Then add the parnsips and stir so they are lightly coated in oil. Then add the cardamom, turmeric, and Moroccan seasoning.

Turmeric coated vegetables

Stir and cook for just a minute or two, so the seasonings lightly coat all the vegetables, then add in the can of tomatoes.

Last jar of tomatoes

This is the last jar of tomatoes I canned last summer. That bums me out because tomatoes aren’t going to be seen around these parts for another three or four months. Next year I will definitely have to can more. Lots more. I’m thinking at least 50 jars. Because I’m clearly crazy.

Stir the tomatoes into the vegetables, then add the vegetable broth. I added another cup of water, as well, because I really had some large parsnips and I wanted to ensure there would be enough liquid for blending later on. Stir well, add salt to taste, then cover the pot and let the liquid come to a boil. Once it’s boiling, lower the heat and leave the pot covered and simmering for about half an hour, or until the parsnips are soft enough that they fall apart a little when you poke them with a fork.

Now you’re going to puree the soup, which is what makes it so silky and creamy and great. Use an immersion blender or a regular blender or a food processor, whichever makes you happy, and blend it until you have a nice, smooth puree with no remaining parsnip chunks. Then add it back to the pot (if you don’t have an immersion blender), and turn the heat back up to simmering. Add in the Israeli couscous and the chickpeas, with their liquid.

Adding the Israeli couscous

Then just let it all cook for another 15 minutes or so. Add salt again, if the soup needs it, and serve, garnished with cilantro if you’re feeling fancy. This is enough soup for about 5 or 6 people, I think. I had to store some in the freezer because I know that even eating this for lunch everyday next week I wouldn’t get through it all.

Creamy Parsnip and Chickpea soup

I’d like to say that this is the end of soup for awhile, that I’ll be moving on to salads for lunch any day now. But this is New England and I just know that’s not true. Alas.

My apologies for my recent extended absence from the blogging. I’m sure I don’t have to say it again, but grad school can be very time consuming. I’m graduating in two months, too, so added to my full-time schooling and part-time working is full-time looking for a job, and preparing to move back to the west coast. It’s hard to believe how fast the last two years have gone by. I’ve been dreaming of getting out of New England for a year or two now, and this brutal winter didn’t make that any less appealing, but now that the time is quickly approaching…well, let’s just say it’s something of a shock. I can’t promise that I’ll be posting more frequently in the next two months, but I can promise that in May, when I actually have some time and my life back, there are some changes in store for this here blog, and I think they’ll be good. So I hope you don’t go away, even when it seems like I have! I have a few more recent meals that are worth sharing, and hopefully I’ll find some time in the next two weeks to do that. Until then, enjoy another bowl of warming winter soup.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. foodnearsnellville permalink
    March 21, 2009 4:09 pm

    The end of grad school is exhausting! A saying I heard around the time I was finishing graduate school said the typical grad student is a neurotic by the time they graduate. You do get past that too!

  2. March 22, 2009 7:57 am

    I know what you mean about being anxious for the warmer months. I just indexed the recipes on my blog, and reliving all the eggplant and zucchini and tomato dishes of summer really gave me a pang. That said, I ADORE parsnips, and this soup sounds delicious!

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