Best Winter Dish: Potato-style Parsnip Soup

Spread the parsnip on the dark ground

Pale, beautiful and healthy-looking: parsnip.

(Photo: Imago Images / Westend61)

Root vegetables naturally lead to a long underground existence. Parsnip and root parsley are planted in the spring and grow into elongated turnips all year round. They are harvested in late fall and winter. And from a culinary perspective, too, they tend to lead a rather ambiguous life. The white, cone-shaped tubers often end up as a pale accompaniment in green, shrink-wrapped stew clusters with carrots, parsley sprigs, and celery slices. In fact, neither parsnip nor parsley root deserve it.

Because the versatile beet has such a good taste and nutty that it justifies a self-confident look in the kitchen – especially in the winter, when you don’t get a lot of fresh, regional greens. The later you harvest the parsnip, the sweeter it will taste. Frost is good for the aroma of the rootstock, which is why the season begins here at the end of November. Visually, it is difficult to distinguish parsnip from the root of parsley, which is very similar to it; It belongs (like carrots) to the same family as the navel plant. Parsnips are slightly larger and wider than the long, pointed roots of parsley.

What is the difference between parsnip and parsley root?

But the taste and smell are different. If you stick your nose up on both beets in a row for comparison, you will notice: the roots of parsley are spicier and sweeter, more in the direction of celery and carrots, and the aroma of parsnip is milder and softer. However, the aromatic roots are much more than just a component of the greens: As a purée, stir-fries, soup, or oven-baked with Parmesan cheese, parsnip has what it takes to perform solo-warming on cold winter evenings. An important rule: in principle, you can do everything with them. You can also prepare it with carrots and potatoes.

Unlike the exotic tubers of Jerusalem artichoke and potato, the parsnip has been native to Central Europe for thousands of years. The Roman historian Pliny reported that Emperor Tiberius had a “Germanic root” handed over to the imperial kitchen as a tribute from the conquered lands. Charlemagne ordered his subjects to grow useful vegetables by law. The tuber also played an important role in medicine and was even said to help prevent snake bites. During the plague epidemics of the Middle Ages, the sap of the plant was given to patients – this is how the root got its name “plague nacke”. With the introduction of potatoes, the parsnip gradually disappeared from the dining table.

For decades, healthy tubers have been celebrating a culinary revival due to the growing popularity of regional organic foods. Parsnip, parsley root, turnip and black sauce appear on the lists of the best restaurants for a long time, not as a decorative element with ecological value, but as an ingredient in itself. Parsnips are excellent for everyday cooking anyway because they are easy to work with, have a long shelf life, are versatile, are well tolerated, and are not particularly expensive. If you don’t buy them as shrink-wrapped plastic containers, but individually at a health food store, your carbon dioxide footprint is minimal.

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The components of the parsnip are a blessing for the body, especially in the winter season. Thanks to its essential oils, the roots have a slightly antibacterial effect. Its numerous carbohydrates fill you up, and parsnips contain plenty of vitamin C, iron, folic acid, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and phosphorous. It is no coincidence that parsnip is also used as a baby food, mixed with bananas, peas or carrots. The roots have never been shown to help fight pests and pestilence, as was believed in the Middle Ages, but homemade parsnip potato soup certainly works against lethargy and bad mood. The competition between potatoes and parsnips has always been a thing of the past, especially since the two types of vegetables perfectly complement each other in terms of taste.

To prepare root vegetable soup with parsnips and potatoes, peel a large onion and cut it into cubes. Peel 600 g of parsnip and 300 g of potatoes (crushed) and cut them into cubes. Heat 1 tsp oil in a large saucepan, fry onions until translucent, add parsnip and potatoes and sauté for a few minutes. Pour 1.5 liters of vegetable broth. Cook for 30-40 minutes until tender. Mix with hand mixer. If you like it finer, filter the soup through a sieve. At the end add a cup of sour cream (vegetarian alternative: soy or cream of oats), salt, pepper and season with nutmeg. It goes well with crispy ham (or beetroot chips) and a slice of farm bread. A few drops of truffle oil or as a fancy option, freshly grated truffle slices complement the earthy root vegetable taste and sweet potato flavour.

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