January 25th, 2011

Sweet Roots Soup (gingered parsnip and carrot)


Like many of you, I am regularly astonished at how foodblogs have transformed the way that we approach our cooking. Indeed, I have a wealth of cookbooks and years of anchored-to-the-stove experience. But for fresh ideas and personal connection, nothing beats the community of dedicated cooks that I have at my virtual fingertips via the blogosphere.

Like this velvet dream of a soup that I found earlier this month on Nancy Liguori’s blog, The Smart Palate. If you don’t know her blog, hustle on over. A terrific chef, food writer, and non-practicing MD, Nancy lives in Manhattan and posts about her culinary adventures with a healthy, seasonal, and sustainable slant.

Her pairing of carrots, parsnips, and ginger in a creamy puree captured my attention. It’s not a difficult soup to make. It relies on the vegetables themselves and a little assertive spice for its body and flavor. There’s no potato for thickening. There’s no stock. There’s no cheese, no cream, no dairy. (unless you count the yogurt garnish—entirely optional, vegan friends!)

Parsnips make all the difference.


I confess, I’ve arrived rather late to the Parsnip party. It’s only been in recent years that I’ve eaten them, let alone devise recipes with them. I think they’ve been a relative unknown in the South, and thanks to intrepid local farmers, they’ve begun to show up at our markets.

They are sort of carrot-like, possibly better than carrots, if we were to be so bold or silly to compare them. Parsnips have a little different texture, a deeper, earthier flavor–yet with a pleasant sweetness. As such, they provide a marvelous base for this lush soup.


I followed Nancy’s recipe with only minor deviations. I had more parsnips on hand. I added a smidge of celery. I didn’t have fresh coriander seeds to toast and grind–just some already ground. Same with the pepitas, which Nancy skillet-toasted herself. I picked up a small package of salt roasted seeds for my garnish. I sauteed the parsnips first before adding the carrots and apples, just to account for the inherent variations in cooking times. Parsnips are denser and take longer to become tender.

The soup is both silken and vibrant. A dash of red pepper flakes, or flick of hot sauce would not be out of the question, if you’d like a little fire. Ginger imparts its own kind of heat, but wouldn’t mind being accompanied with some peppery piquancy.

If you are vegan, and decide to leave off the yogurt part of the garnish, it’s okay. But don’t omit those pepitas—not only are the greenish seeds visually appealing atop the puree, their salty, crunchy bites are a welcome contrast to the smooth sweetness of the soup.


adapted from The Smart Palate, Chef Nancy Liguori

1 Tablespoon Butter
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil (plus more for a little drizzle!)
1/2 medium Onion, chopped
2 stalks Celery, finely chopped, leaves included
3 Parsnips, sliced
6 Carrots, sliced
1/2 Apple, diced
1 heaping Tablespoon fresh Ginger root, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Coriander
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
Sea Salt and Black Pepper

to garnish: Plain Greek Yogurt (about a teaspoon per bowl)
Toasted Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Melt butter and olive oil together in a deep saucepan on medium heat, and saute onion and celery for a couple of minutes. Stir in parsnips and continue cooking for another five minutes. Add carrots, apple, and fresh ginger. Allow the vegetables to caramelize as they cook, and scrape up the little browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Season with salt, pepper, cumin, and coriander.

Cover vegetables with water—about 5 cups—-and bring to just under a boil.
Simmer, covered, until parsnips and carrots are tender–about 20 minutes.
Puree the veggies and broth in a food processor fitted with the swivel blade.
Taste for seasonings and adjust.

Gently warm the pureed soup and pour into bowls.
Garnish with a swirl of plain Greek yogurt, some toasted pepitas, and a drizzle of fruity olive oil.
Serves 4-6.


Posted in Recipes, Soups/Stews, Vegan

18 Responses to “Sweet Roots Soup (gingered parsnip and carrot)”
  1. FOODESSA Says:

    I have to admit that a rutabaga will get my attention quicker than the parsnip. I too am a little late on the train of parsnip fans ;0) It has been a very long time since I’ve had them.
    I shall give parsnips another chance…especially when they can be well paired with some of my other favourite ingredients you have bathing in this beautiful soup potage ;o)

    Thanks for sharing this comforting recipe as well as directing us to a blog you enjoy so much.

    Flavourful wishes,

  2. nancy Says:

    Hi Nancy,

    I was just stopping by to see what delicious things you had up your sleeve today, and imagine my surprise and delight to see your sweet post featuring my very humble parnsip soup. I am ever-so-happy that you enjoyed it, and thank you! I like your adaptations and will given them a try next time I make this. Beautiful photos, too – are those Ryvita flatbreads alongside? My favorite :)

    all the best,


  3. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Ryvitas, yes ma’am!
    thanks for the inspiration—I love your soups!!

  4. nancy Says:

    I always know a Ryvita when I see one – I have them for breakfast nearly every morning with almond butter and slices of banana or apple. Yum. And I am officially obsessed with soup – making black bean tonight, actually!

  5. My Little Expat Kitchen Says:

    Nancy what a wonderful soup. I love it! I arrived late to the parsnip party as well. It’s not a very widely used root vegetable in Greece so I only got to use it when I moved to Holland about 3 years ago. I have been using ever since in winter soups and stews and I love making baked parsnip chips as well.
    Your soup looks amazing and thank you for introducing me to another great food blog. I just took a peak at Nancy’s blog and looks like she has some great recipes there.

  6. Jackie (Phamfatale.com) Says:

    Looks lovely! I like how you use all winter root veggies and topped the soup with pumpkin seeds for more crunch.

  7. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best Says:

    I love that despite the fact we’re in the dead of winter here, we’re still able to eat seasonally. This is a beautiful rustic soup. I agree with you on parsnips they do taste like carrots with a green root vegetable flavor.

  8. Sruthi @ Exercise, Food & Beyond Says:

    The soup looks great. Its a good use of all the winter root vegetables. I must give it a try.

  9. blackbookkitchendiaries Says:

    i really love the combo of carrots and parsnips…and this soup sounds heavenly right now. thanks for sharing this.

  10. Tammy Says:

    I wish you’d do a post on how you get such great photos. They are really spectacular. I love parsnips more than anything in the winter so I’m sold based on a single ingredient.

  11. peabody Says:

    I adore root vegetables. What a wonderful soup.

  12. Kelli Says:

    Thank you for posting this recipe. My mother-in-law is obsessed with parsnips, and I can’t wait to make it for her. My oven is broken right now, so since baking’s off the table, a stove-top soup will be perfect!

  13. Barbara Says:

    Nothing better and more warming that a root vegetable soup. I haven’t made one with parsnips…but will add those the next time!

  14. Faith Says:

    This is exactly the sort of thing I’ve been craving — warm and hearty and full of flavor! And I love the garnishes you chose!

  15. foodonfifth.com, Teresa Blackburn Says:

    I have never met a root vegetable I did not like…and parnips are among my favorites. I think the combination of lovely ingredients for this soup is so nice and cozy and delicious sounding. Here’s to winter soups. Great job Nance.

  16. Katarina Says:

    Just made this soup today- wonderful recipe! I’m enjoying it!

  17. goodfoodmatters Says:

    I’m so glad you made it and like it. Thanks for letting me know!

  18. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    I’m definitely making this. The toasted pepitas are a nice topping idea.

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