So you can imagine my joy when I realized that my entry for “best thing I’ve ever eaten recently” was a soup and therefore could also be submitted to Branny’s Souper Bowl. This may not be very exciting to you, dear readers, but in Thathouse there was a-whooping and a-hollering. (We don’t get out very much in Thathouse. There was also a celebration the first “day-without-a-pantry-moth-sighting.” )
When I first read about Bellini’s challenge to try and recreate the “best thing you’ve ever eaten recently” I was kind of stump. Truthfully, there are very few things that really stand out as the best thing I’ve ever eaten (although thinking about it, I probably could have easily submitted some of the popcorn we’ve been ordering out at restaurants. POPCORN at RESTAURANTS. ARE YOU READING THIS? It must be the most brilliant idea since the flying machine.). And then we went to Arizona. And while everything we ate at NOCA was delectable, one thing clearly stood out – the parsnip soup.
As I thought about that soup, dreamed about that soup, salivated over that soup, I realized I had a similar feeling about the garlic soup we had in Mendocino for our anniversary. And then I caught myself extolling the virtues of the Nordstrom Café Tomato Basil Soup to Thatmom. Seriously, what is it about soup that can bring on such an extreme feeling? Is it the warmth and comfort, like a favorite blanket? The silky texture that slides down your throat? Maybe the ease at which a good soup can come together. Whatever it is, I realize there is something about soup that draws you in, in a way no other food can.
I searched for the actual NOCA recipe and couldn’t find it, so I satisfied myself by using a recipe from Tom Valenti’s Soups, Stews and One Pot Meals. The verdict? It was a tad bit salty. BUT otherwise it was perfect and delicious and perfectly captured everything about that NOCA soup I loved so much. It was creamy and rich, without an ounce of cream or milk. In fact, the most unhealthy part of the soup comes from the roasting oil alone. And the roasted parsnips added an unparalleled flavor, like any good roasted root vegetable. I see this soup being made again and again and again (just with less salt).
Roasted Parsnip Soup (From Soup, Stews, and One Pot Meals)
- 2 pounds parsnips, trimmed, peeled, and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2/3 teaspoons fresh-ground pepper
- 1 medium onion, peeled and cut into small pieces
- 1 stalk celery, cut into small pieces
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 1/2 quarts reduced-sodium vegetable broth
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the parsnips, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together and place in a single layer in a baking pan. Roast the parsnips, shaking the pan occasionally to turn them, until tender and easily pierced with a fork -- about 60 minutes. Trim away any burned areas.
- Heat the remaining olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until hot. Add the onion, celery, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and cook until translucent and softened -- about 5 minutes. Stir in the parsnips, bay leaf, and broth, and increase the heat to medium high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low, partially cover the pot and simmer until the parsnips fall apart easily -- about 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.
- Puree the mixture in a blender, in 2-cup batches, until smooth. Return the soup to the pot over low heat and stir occasionally until warmed through.
And because my first soup attempt failed, I am just pleased as punch to be able to enter this in Branny’s Souper Bowl. And since Branny wants us to dedicate our posts to more than just soup (although really my love for soup is quite obvious), I dedicate this post to our favorite mascot - Thatdog!
Thatdog says "Wait till you try this soup."