Parsnip Potage

When I told you all about parsnips last week little did I realise that I'd need a follow up post quite so soon. We decided the large parsnip on the right of last week's photo was too much, even for parsnip lovers like us, so I put it back in the damp newspaper I'd used to take it up to Yorkshire, so it wouldn't dry out. Back home I prefer to store them in the allotment, though I couldn't get at them last week because the ground was frozen solid! Others who dig them up and store them in damp sand would have been feeling most superior.

So it was just as well I had my newspaper wrapped parsnip when I came to make some soup. On unwrapping it, I was surprised to find the top of the parsnip had started to sprout as shown in the picture, betraying its close cousinship with celery. As a result I'm wondering if parsnip tops can be forced* like other vegetables such as beetroot. I'm tempted to have a go with the ones left up at the allotment. These tops are edible (so are carrot tops - has anyone tried them?), so I added them to my soup.

I didn't use either of the two recipes I linked to last week. Both are rather heavy on the cream and NAH and I are trying to eat more healthily at the moment. If you are too, you might like to try my version made up on the spot which uses no fat in its cooking. Don't worry, it's still delicious.

  • 1 large parsnip - peeled, roughly chopped and including any vegetable tops. NB the more woody core of the parsnip can also be used, unless it really is as tough as old boots (this can of course be used to make stock for your next batch of soup instead)
  • 1 large onion - peeled and roughly sliced
  • 1.2 litres vegetable stock, or 1 vegetable stock cube made up to this amount, depending on what you have available
  • Ground cumin seeds or similar spices such as ground coriander, nutmeg, garam masala or a mixture of any of these - to your taste. I used 2 heaped teaspoons of freshly ground cumin
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste - I don't use any in my cooking, so this is omitted for NAH and me
  1. Add the onion and stock to a large pan and heat through gently
  2. In the meantime prepare the parsnip and add to the pan
  3. Grind in some black pepper and add the spices you are using - taste and adjust seasoning if necessary
  4. Bring to the boil, then cover and turn down to a simmer immediately
  5. Simmer for 15 minutes and turn off the heat
  6. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary
  7. Process the soup with a hand blender until the mixture is smooth and relatively thick
  8. Serve immediately - if you want, you can garnish with croutons, chopped parsnip or celery leaves, or even a swirl of cream if you're not counting the calories
Serves 4.
Variations: I had a couple of leftover squashy tomatoes and half a pepper to add last week - they added to the parsnip's sweetness very well and gave the soup an attractive colour, though they're not strictly seasonal of course. Salad leftovers work well as would carrot or celery if you have some spare at the time. Use warming spice(s) like the cumin I used as they go so well with the warming nature of the parsnip itself. Remember to taste the soup for seasoning and spicing as you go.

* = strictly speaking I wouldn't be forcing them as I won't be digging the plants up like I did with my beetroot last year. The correct word when plants are left in situ is blanching, though the technique (the covering up part anyway) and the end result are the same.


  1. Hello VP I have never ever tasted Parsnip Potage, but it is January and that is a perfect month for soups and lean food. Although I think I'll add the a swirl of cream, it sound delicious.
    Are they easy to grow?


  2. never mind forcing beetroot - we eat the tops all through the season. They're delicious - like spinach or chard only more interesting. And pretty.

    Didn't know parsnip tops were edible (though stands to reason I suppose) - will be very interested to hear what they taste like!

  3. Tyra - hello! I've linked to last week's post now which has all the info you need about growing them.

    CG - Happy New Year! I love the tops too - Bull's Blood are pretty much constantly in my salad mix. However, they'd died back somewhat over the winter last year, so I found forcing them was a good way to get some early leaves back into the mix. I've yet to find out about parsnip tops though - I forgot to taste them last week and just added the whole lot to the soup! The soup was delicious, even though I say so myself :)

  4. Dear VP,

    It sounds delicious...I must share this with my friends. We had roasted carrots and parsnips at a holiday dinner that were scrumptious...they had a little sweet glaze (very slight) on them. I didn't know carrot tops were edible! I love blogging!


  5. 'Parsnip Potage' sounds most warm and hearty VP. I think that I might give it a go at the weekend. It will suit me as I am on a healthy eating plan (diet) at the moment and will be for some time to come. I wish I had left some of my 'Bulls Blood' in the ground but pulled the last ones up in November :( I will be interested to hear the experiment goes. I wonder what would happen with turnips and other root veg.

  6. Vp, I wanted to come over and thank you for sharing the lovely poem. I have forwarded it to my newsletter staff to print in memory of our friend. Thanks again. The recipe sounds yummy.


  7. Maybe I will try the parsnip pottage. When I was a kid someone gave my family several bushels of parsnips. We ate them for breakfast lunch and dinner. I didn't care for them much after that.

    An Arkie's Musings

  8. Have you ever tried putting apple in your parsnip soup. The sharpness of the apple, especially if you use a cooker, makes a lovely contrast to the sweetness of the parsnip. Can't remember where I got the idea from though.

  9. This sounds quite good, VP. I often make potato soup, but with milk instead of stock. I wonder if parsnips could be added to the potato soup for a little different taste? I'm always looking for new soup recipes in the winter.

  10. hmmmmmmm. parsnips! cut with the veg peeler, sprayed with fry light, thrown in the oven. Hmmmm, bet thst would taste gorgeous on top of your soup. Crunchy and velvety. What combo. I must try it

  11. Gail - mmmm sweet glaze on carrots, yummy! Let me know how you get on if you try this!

    Anna - I hope you enjoy it :)

    Deb - you're very welcome and thanks so much for the follow up post over at yours, I was very touched.

    richies - what a good story and I can understand your resulting parsnip aversion! Here's hoping you've got over it now...

    Colleen - apple and parsnip is a yummy combination. I didn't put it in as a variation (durr - should have) as the previous post had a link to a curried apple and parsnip soup recipe. Thanks for the reminder :)

    Rose - I think that would work well. Parsnips have about the same consistency as potato, so you could try a combination of the 2, or just parsnips. Let me know how you get on.

    SOL - sounds a yummy idea. The previous piece has a link to parsnip crisps too. Mmmmmmm

  12. I saw some parnsips in a hoity toity specialty store (whose doors I normally never darken, but they do have excellent and inexpensive bulk spices) yesterday. Thought you'd want to know!

  13. Hi Monica - thanks. Did you buy any?


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