Parsnip Soup with Curry Spices

(recipe, Deborah Madison)

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Warm curry spices balance the apple-sweet flavor of parsnip, a delicious winter vegetable that is often overlooked. Serve the soup by itself or with a few spoonfuls of cooked rice added to each bowl.


    1. The parings and fibrous inner cores of the parsnips (from Soup, below)
    2. 1½ cups leek greens, chopped
    3. 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
    4. 2 celery stalks with some leaves, diced
    5. 5 whole branches cilantro
    6. 1 oz. ginger root, peeled and sliced (optional)
    7. ½ tsp. salt
    8. 7 cups cold water
    1. 3 to 4 parsnips, about 7 inches long
    2. 4 Tbsp. clarified butter (ghee)
    3. 1 medium yellow onion, cut into ½-inch squares
    4. 1 Tbsp. curry powder
    5. 4 Tbsp. cilantro leaves, chopped
    6. 2 to 3 leeks, white parts only (8 ounces), chopped
    7. 2 carrots, peeled and diced
    8. 2 celery stalks, diced
    9. 1 tsp. salt
    10. 5 to 6 cups stock (see Stock, above)
    11. 1 cup light cream
    12. Whole cilantro leaves, for garnish
    13. 3 radishes, very thinly sliced, for garnish


    1. Wash, peel, chop, and dice all the vegetables called for in both the stock and the soup. For the parsnips, quarter them lengthwise and cut out most of their fibrous inner cores.
    2. Put all the stock ingredients together in a stockpot and slowly bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Strain immediately. There should be 5 to 6 cups of stock.
    3. Heat the clarified butter in a soup pot and add the onion. Cook it over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it turns a rich golden color, about 15 minutes. Stir in the curry powder and half the chopped cilantro and cook for 1 minute. Add the parsnips, leeks, carrots, celery, salt, and stock. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and cook until the vegetables are soft.
    4. Cool the soup briefly, then pass it through a food mill, blender, or immersion blender on low speed to leave a little texture and flecks of color. Return the soup to the pot (if you used the mill or conventional blender), stir in the cream, and taste for salt.
    5. Serve the soup garnished with the remaining chopped cilantro, a few whole leaves of cilantro, and a cluster of thinly sliced radishes in each bowl.


    This soup is usually served hot, but it also makes a good cold soup, perhaps for an especially warm day in early spring.