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celery root and roasted parsnip soup

(post, Elizabeth Stark)

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One of my good friends is vegan and usually that's great...except when we want to have her over to dinner. You see, I am allergic to the great majority of vegetable proteins. That's right, peanuts, almost all nuts, soy, and almost all beans and legumes. No chickpeas, black beans, peas, lima beans, or tofu. I am kind of a vegan's nightmare. But, me and this friend, we make it work with the small parcel of common ground we have. Thankfully, I can eat pinto beans, coconuts, and pine nuts.

So usually when she comes over for dinner it's pinto beans or pesto? This time, I decided to change it up a bit (kind of). I made this celery root and roasted parsnip soup, a green salad with a light vinaigrette and apple slices, and (surprise!) a quinoa, kale, and pinto bean salad. It was a delicious dinner, 

A note on the recipe: due to the pale ingredients that comprise this soup it looks a little like beige baby food. You might be able to get a baby to eat it, but adults, vegan or otherwise, are the target audience here. This soup is really flavorful and sophisticated. Despite it's humble exterior, the celery root has an amazing fragrance with crisp, bright flavor. The roasted parsnips give the flavor a little depth, so that overall, the soup is really nicely balanced.

Vegan broth: Since the stock is a big part of the flavor, I made a really strong vegetable broth to start. I heated a good amount of olive oil and then sauteed two quartered onions, 3 or 4 carrots, and shallots. I also threw in 4 or 5 celery stalks, chives, bay leaves, and the parsnip ends that I cut off. Add water, boil, and then simmer for 4 hours, and you will have a really nice vegetable broth.

Celery Root and Roasted Parsnip Soup

1 1/2 -2 quarts good vegetable broth (see note above)
2 celery roots, washed and peeled
5 medium parsnips, peeled
6 or 7 stalks of celery with leaves (reserve a few leaves for garnish)
Salt and pepper to taste
squeeze of lemon

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the parsnips into 1/2" thick strips and carefully lay on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Roast for about 25 minutes, turning halfway though. They should be a rich golden brown when they're done. Set them aside to cool.

Meanwhile, dice the celery roots and celery. Pour the broth into a large soup pan and add the celery root. Add some salt and pepper, and bring everything to a boil, then turn down to a mild simmer for about 30-40 minutes, or until the celery root is tender. Add the celery and the roasted parsnips, simmer for another 10 minutes and then puree. Check the salt and pepper, add the squeeze of lemon, and thin with water or stock until you have achieved your desired consistency.

Serve with a garnish of celery leaves and a drizzle of olive oil; put it over toast for a more substantial meal.