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Potato Parsnip Soup: Sweet and Smoky

parsnip potato soupWhile parsnip and potato soup is a fantastic winter soup, it’s also a great dish for a rainy spring evening, when you also want something a little filling. The over-wintered parsnips and the yukon gold potatoes have just a little bit of sweetness and velvety texture, while the shallots and roasted garlic gives it a kick. For a little added richness and smokiness, serve with a bit of bacon. In a few months, you’ll be on to gazpacho and corn soup, but for now, it’s nice to have one last hearty taste of winter.

Parsnip Potato Soup

1 head garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup diced shallot (roughly 4 small)
2 cups parsnips, diced (roughly 4 medium)
3 cups yukon gold potatoes, diced (6 or 7 small)
1/2 cup carrots, diced (roughly 1 or 2 medium)
6 cups vegetable broth
water as needed
2 teaspoons salt
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
1 strip crispy bacon (optional)

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the end off of the head of garlic, and place into a foil packet with olive oil. Make sure any folds in the packet are on the top to avoid spillage. Please on a small, oven-proof dish, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. When you can handles the garlic, squeeze the cloves out of the papery skin, mash with any olive oil from the bottom of the packet, and set aside.

In a large dutch oven or heavy-bottomed soup pot, heat the butter over medium heat until bubbly and fragrant. Add the shallots and saute for 3 minutes. Add the parsnips and carrots, and saute for 10 minutes. Next, add the potatoes and saute for another 7 minutes. Add the broth, salt and bay leaves, bring to a boil, and then turn down to simmer for 20 – 30 minutes. When the parsnips and potatoes are tender, add the garlic, stir, and remove from heat. Either in a blender (working in small batches) or with an immersion blender, puree the soup.

Serve with a crumble of bacon, a drizzle of olive oil, and a few fresh parsley leaves.

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