Back in early November I pulled out my two Irish cookbooks to find some different ways to work with all the apples and pears that were in abundance at the farmers market. Irish cookbooks always seem to have interesting uses for apples and pear that pique my curiosity. Because of this I always try and make a mental note to pull these cookbooks out each fall.
I ended up spending most my time looking through The New Irish Table by Margaret M. Johnson. Instead of just thumbing through waiting for something to jump out at me, I found myself going through it page by page. The pictures suddenly felt real to me and the stories told caught my eye. I was connecting with the book. I understood it so much better. Ah… then it dawned on me. We spent several weeks in Ireland over the summer. I now had context for what I was reading and seeing! The book felt like a brand new cookbook as I went through marking recipes to try. And oh how it stirred a longing to return and explore all that we didn’t get to see.
One of the recipes I happened to mark several years ago was the Roasted Parsnip, Apple, and Ginger Soup. This recipe which hails from Bewleys Cafe on Grafton Street in Dublin… the same Bewleys we happened to stop at and have coffee during our travels.
I love any use of parsnips and the apples are such a great way to had a hint of sweet without tasting like you added sugar to it. And the ginger… we all can use a little spice, right? Now this isn’t a fancy soup. It is actually very humble soup. The parsnips, apples and ginger are roasted together to bring out the flavors. It does requires a bit of chopping but I found it to be quite cathartic.
I can easily say there are probably more vegetables in this soup then there needs to be. And the parsnip/apple/ginger combo could have a stronger flavor profile. But really, when is a recipe ever done? I can’t keep count of the times I say “this needs work” to the things I make. Sometimes we just need to eat and enjoy. The soup is creamy, full of a not so commonly used vegetables, and warms your body on a cold winter day. And one that can bring back the memories of Ireland? That sounds like good soup to me.
I paired this soup with a brown bread recipe from Imen over at marriedanirishfarmer.com. It is one of the better brown bread recipes I’ve tried. The garnish is simply thinly sliced parsnip, fried in peanut oil. Trust me when I say they are not worth the effort. It is more eye candy than anything.
Roasted Parsnip, Apple, and Ginger Soup
Adapated from: The New Irish Table
3/4 pound parsnips, peeled and thickly sliced
1/2 pound granny smith apples, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
1/2 fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 pound leeks, washed and sliced
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
3/4 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup half and half
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven 350 degrees. Toss prepared parsnips, apples, and ginger with the olive oil. Place in a 9 x 13 baking dish, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, stir, cover, and return to oven and bake another 20 minutes. Or till soft and tender.
In a large sauce pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add the leeks, celery, and potatoes. Cook for 5 minutes or till slightly tender. Add in roasted veggies and chicken stock. Turn heat down to low, cover and cook for 30 minutes, till all veggies are tender.
Transfer, in batches to a food processor or blender to puree (or don’t transfer at all and use your immersion blender.) Return pureed soup to the pan, add the half and half and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Makes 6 – 8 servings.