Creamy Parsnip and Pear Soup
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Let’s get right down to business: soup season has officially arrived, bringing with it bowls of warm, comforting goodness, smells that permeate the house, the nourishment we crave on chilly days, and blisters to our little, out-of-practice fingers.
Whenever I make soup, I immediately think back to my time at Fork, when I spent the better part of a year prepping carrots, parsnips, onions and celery, the four vegetables that went into every hot soup chef Thien made.
Almost every other morning began with soup making, with the stovetop lined with cauldrons, with a constant sprint up and down the basement stairs, in and out of the walk-in, a large aluminum bowl in hand, hours of peeling and chopping before me. The blisters made haste, but soon calloused, making the work less painful, physically if not mentally.
So many soups require a lot of chopping, but the time dedicated to the process almost always pays off: quantities that feed a crowd often at little cost. Thien liked to remind me that soup was how restaurants made money.
OK, in an effort to make soup season go a little more smoothly, I’ve compiled a few thoughts below:
How to Be A More Efficient Soup Maker
1. A good chef’s knife, of foremost importance when prepping vegetables, will only be helpful if it is sharp. A few months ago I bought a Wusthof knife sharpener for $30 and couldn’t be happier with how it works. This is an especially nice gadget to have on hand if you find using sharpening stones and steels awkward.
2. A good peeler. This one has been my long-time favorite:
3. Because soup making often requires a fair amount of peeling and chopping, you will find yourself making many trips to the garbage can. If, at the commencement of your prepping journey, you designate a large, light bowl as your garbage bin, have your bench scraper handy for whisking away those scraps, and keep a small bowl nearby for transfering your prepped vegetables to your soup pot, you will save a lot of time.
4. Homemade Stock. We all know delicious soups can be made without any stock at all, but when a soup calls for chicken, beef, duck or whatever stock, homemade is best. Also, I never make anything other than chicken stock, so don’t be deterred by a recipe that calls for some sort of exotic stock — chicken stock, which is a snap to make, can almost always be substituted. Vegetable stock similarly is very easy to make not to mention fast: Homemade Vegetable Stock.
5. Storage containers. These quart containers, which are BPA-free, are so handy for storing homemade stock as well as leftover homemade soup. Last year I went through a purging frenzy of getting rid of all of my old plastic storage containers, replacing everything with glass. But, the thing is, you need plastic if you want to freeze your soups and stocks — glass jars shatter in the freezer. Having the right size storage vessels on hand is a such a joy.
6. An immersion blender is so handy for puréed soups. I don’t have a fancy one — it has been years since I bought this one but I don’t think I spent more than $35 or so:
Friends, what soups have you been making? What are your favorite soup-making tips?
How to Make Parsnip and Pear Soup
Pear and parsnip soup ingredients:
Is there any better smell than onions sweating in butter?
Serve with lots of crusty bread:
Creamy Parsnip & Pear Soup
- Yield: 4 servings
Source: Daniel Humm and Will Guidara’s I Love NY: Ingredients and Recipes
A doubled version of the original recipe, which calls for making a vanilla-almond oil, can be found here.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
- 1 cup shallots or onions, small diced
- kosher salt
- 2 cups parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped (2 to 3 parsnips depending on size)
- ½ cup celery root, optional
- fresh thyme leaves, minced, about a tablespoon or so (original recipe calls for rosemary)
- 1 to 2 cups pear, peeled and roughly chopped (1 to 2 pears)
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 5 cups homemade chicken stock or vegetable stock
- ½ cup half-and-half or cream
- Pear vinegar or other: I use white balsamic vinegar
- truffle oil (optional, for drizzling, so good)
- Pepper to taste
- bread, this one or this one is nice
- In a medium stockpot, melt the butter over medium-low heat, add the shallots or onions, a pinch of salt, and sweat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the parsnip, celery root (if using), minced thyme, and pinch of salt and continue to sweat for 5 to 6 minutes. Add the pear, and continue cooking for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the white wine, increase the heat to high, and reduce by half — to about 1 cup of liquid. Note: It is will be really hard to tell if the wine has reduced by half — just simmer for about 5 minutes or until the alcohol smell dissipates.
- Add the stock and a pinch of salt, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat, and stir in the half and half or cream.
- Transfer the soup to a blender or use an immersion blender, and purée on high speed until smooth. Taste. Add more salt if necessary.
- To serve, season to taste with vinegar (just a few drops), drizzle with truffle oil (if using), and black pepper if you wish. Serve with lots of crusty bread.
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44 Comments on “Creamy Parsnip and Pear Soup”
Soup makes me happy, this soup looks like it would make me swoon! I have made vegetable beef soup (like my mom made when I was growing up) twice lately and will be going for the third time this weekend….soup and bread and butter…add that to the gorgeous weather we’re having and it doesn’t get much better! This soup looks both comforting and sexy at the same time! I know, I know, but it does! OH! How did you like the Will Farrell movie? I so hope you loved it…..soup this weekend, soup next weekend! yay! XO!
We have had two beautiful days here, too…not really soup weather at all, though I did have a bowl of clam chowder at one of the orchards nearby for lunch today, and it hit the spot! Laurie, Laurie, we didn’t get to watch the movie 🙁 My sister has 3-month old twins in addition to a 4-yr old and a 2-yr old, and I wasn’t really anticipating how demanding they would be at that time of night…I really should know better. So, every night they were here, we crashed as soon as our heads hit the pillows. But it is on the top of my to-watch list, and I promise I will let you know as soon as I watch. How was Jeff’s bday dinner? xoxo
It was a wonderful weekend and he had a great birthday and dinner! He LOVES the watch I bought him……I can’t imagine that many LITTLE ONES running around! Well, most of them running! lol! Sounds beautiful! The weather here is divine, more soup (this one!) on the dinner plans….the garden is fabulous, roses are blooming, the asparagus is growing great guns still which is very exciting as I’ve never grown it before this year! Do you know an asparagus patch will live like 20 plus years?! Who knew? Did you start your classes yet? I so wish I could have come to visit! XO!
Yay! So happy to hear this. It was a wild weekend — 7 kids 4 and under…it took hours just to get out of the house to go anywhere. I had no idea asparagus grew in the fall! That is so exciting. Did you have to plant it like 3 years ago? I’ve read it takes forever to get going, but once you get it going it’s pretty prolific. One of Ben’s friends says it grows wild here…we’ve been meaning to go foraging for it. One day. And Laurie, I totally spaced on letting you know about my classes! I’m sorry. The first one is this Thursday! I wish you could have come, too. I’m practicing this weekend with my in-laws. Fingers crossed! Have a great weekend. xoxo
I planted the asparagus in the spring, it took forever to come up and now it’s all ferny and wildy looking! I’ll take some photos and put them on Instagram….you can supposedly harvest on year three and then every year after….you cut it back in the fall after the ferns turn brown from cold….it would be so awesome to be around that many little ones! I miss when my kids were little!! Someday I’ll get out to vist you!! Just save me a spot on the carpet!
I have been so busy making your butternut squash pasta sauce / soup, I don’t think I’ve even thought about alternatives since that posting. Can’t wait to try this one though!
Oh yay! So happy to hear this. I love that butternut sauce, too. Love the flavor of the sage!
I love this post. And, thank you for recommending those quart containers. I’m going to order and this soup looks amazing. I have both immersion blender and a Vitamix and it’s time to get going.
Yes! Do I need a Vitamix? I have been wanting to get a juicer or vitamix, and I’ve heard great things about both, but I also feel like I’ve made it this far without them, so, do I really need them? I think I might 🙂
Our staples are:
pumpkin, peanut, coconut soup with curry spice a lot
Cannellini bean soup with kale
Clean out the veggi draw chicken soup with whole grains and alphabet noodles.
Oh, yum! Is that pumpkin soup vegetarian? Any interest in sharing the recipe? Sounds amazing.
Ali, how do you safely store your homemade chicken broth? Specifically, do you let it cool for any length of time after you make it or do you refrigerate it immediately?
Hi Trish! That’s a good question. I do let it cool in the pot briefly or once I strain it into a big bowl, but it often is still warm when I transfer it to my quart containers and then even to the fridge. I’ve never had an issue with the heat of the stock bringing down the temperature of the fridge and therefore making the environment unsafe, but I know there are concerns surrounding this. I do always let it cool in the fridge uncovered (precarious, I know!) or loosely covered — it just feels wrong securely covering a hot quart container — so that in the morning I can discard the fat that has solidified on the top. It’s best to discard the fat before you freeze the stock so that you don’t have to worry about fat being there when you are ready to thaw the stock. Does that make sense? I hope I’ve answered your question 🙂 I guess, in sum, the stock is often warm to the touch when it enters my fridge but not scalding.
I am so loving your site, Alexandra. Just found you two weeks ago via a reviewer on Amazon mentioning shopping for a pyrex bowl for your mother’s Peasant Bread recipe. I love how you explain and show and link to products. You put so much into describing a recipe I feel like I just had a calming visit in a friend’s kitchen. Don’t like red Tabasco,but never tried the green Tabasco. Hmmmmm…. I have found Frank’s Original Red Hot Sauce can be added to dishes to spark them when they aren’t quite right. I’ve added some Frank’s as an enhancer to Three Bean Salad, potato salad, etc It doesn’t overpower, it just makes things taste better.
That is so funny about the pyrex bowl link — I do love my Pyrex 322 🙂 Anyway, I’m glad you found me, and thank you for your kind words — it really means a lot. I love Frank’s Original Hot Sauce, too, and I love using it on all the salads you mentioned — potato and bean — and I love adding a dash to whole grain salads, too. I think part of the reason these hot sauces add so much flavor is that they are vinegar based, so they just add enough to brighten the flavors of everything without overpowering. Thanks so much for writing in!
I love how the drizzle of oil adds some color to the white soup. Also, I’m guessing that people who don’t like truffle oil and who aren’t interested in making a vanilla almond oil, might just drizzle a swirl of almond oil in lieu of the truffle oil and that the almond oil would be a delicate and complimentary taste. Actually, I’m glad you fiddled with the recipe–I don’t like my soups tasting too much like dessert or pie, which is sometimes a tendency with root vegetable soups.
Soup, glorious soup – I’m looking forward to trying this one.
I (like you) these days, make chicken stock only. I find stashing chicken fixings (bones, etc.) and the peelings, scrapings, ends of onions, carrots, mushrooms, celery, leeks in the freezer works like a dream. It accumulates speedily and I produce a great house-made stock quickly, economically and justify purchasing free-range chicken because I use every bit.
There’s a soup I make called “One of Each” and has probably the most unique combination of soup ingredients I’ve encountered. It’s so surprisingly tasty and is great either hot or cold.
1 celery heart (with its leaves)
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled
1 ripe banana
heavy cream (or half milk/half cream)
salt, pepper, fresh chives
I no longer remember where I found it, but it remains a firm favourite at my house. I was seduced by the name of the soup and nearly didn’t make it because I really don’t care for bananas (and in a soup???). But I’m so glad I tried it – easy, unforgettable and fun.
Oh my gosh, this sounds amazing! I am so trying this. Looks simple and, as you say, surprisingly tasty…never would have thought to put bananas in soup. So fun.
Thank you for sharing the recipe. I will report back when One-of-Each soup happens!
Parsnip and pear soup sounds amazing, especially with truffle oil. Is there a brand you recommend? I have been wanting to try truffle oil or salt but don’t want to buy it unless I know it will be good.
Right now I am on a spicy kick, and I just made butternut squash soup with fried garlic and chili oil: https://www.acalculatedwhisk.com/2014/10/butternut-squash-soup-with-fried-garlic.html
This one is next on my list! It would also look really pretty to try serving a white and an orange soup in the same bowl, like the yin and yang of autumn.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a great recommendation for truffle oil. I bought one at the store, that is pretty good in the soup, but not great on other things — I notice a weird after taste that I haven’t noticed with other brands.
Your butternut soup looks divine! Those garnishes. Yum yum yum.
Sitting here with the first of what is sure to be MANY bowls of this delicacy on a grey and stormy afternoon (scratch that, second bowl) and it couldn’t be more perfectly autumnal. I love how the sweet and tart flavors bounce off each other, but the parsnip and celery give it such a nice earthy grounding. And oh, the truffle oil!!
To the previous post on truffle oil, if you can get a good brand in a pump-spray container, I highly recommend it. As you’ll often be using it as a subtle flavor enhancement in small amounts, spraying rather than pouring works particularly well (and prettily).
So happy to hear you liked this one, Kathrin! Isn’t the sweet-tart flavor nice? I find this so unusual and delicious, and I love the addition of the truffle oil. Great tip on the pump spray! I need to get one of those. Also, if you like this soup, I think you might like this cauliflower-apple soup, too.
I love the suggestion for Green Tabasco and all of your tips! This definitely seems like a great year-round soup
Just noticed the chopped onion content has me confused 1/4 cup, but you actually used 2 cups? Please clarify if you have a chance. Thanks, Alexandra!
I know, it seems like an extreme difference — 1/4 cup vs. 2 cups — but I really did add closer to cups of diced onion. I think you will be fine adding only 1/4 cup, but I think a little more will add a nice flavor — this soup is very forgiving. I hate using 1/2 an onion, so I just chopped up the onion I had, and I used it all. Hope you like it!
Soup is one my favorite things about fall. How long do you think stock keeps in the freezer?
Forever! No seriously, I have a free-standing freezer, which gets colder than my freezer attached to my fridge, so I keep things in there for months. I don’t think I’ve every frozen stock for as long as a year, but I wouldn’t hesitate to use it so long as the freezer has kept a steady temperature the whole time. Hope that makes sense!
Can you make this ahead at all? Friends are coming Thursday but I have time today – Tuesday. I want to serve this for their “welcome to our home”
Yes! Absolutely. It reheats beautifully! Just reheat it slowly over lowish heat. And you might need some stock to thin it out — these soups always thicken up a bit as they sit.
What can I use in place of the half & half or cream…can’t digest it?
What do you typically substitute for these ingredients? Are you able to digest sour cream or creme fraiche? Sorry if that is a silly question. Otherwise, I wonder if almond milk would work? I’m sorry I can’t offer more guidance — I don’t often make these substitutions. Let me know if you have success with anything!
I’m loving that there is pear in this soup! So much more interesting than a plain-old creamy veg soup. Must try! Did you bake that loaf yourself that is sliced in the photos? It is perfection! Great tips here (especially the bowl for scraps) and I am soooo happy soup weather has returned 🙂 🙂
THanks, Sophie! I did bake the loaf myself. It’s just the good old Lahey dough recipe, but I baked it on the Steel, and I covered it with a bowl — the crumb was very good, and the crust was good, too, but the shape was a little odd…still working on it. I’m so happy about soup season too…weeee!
Ive just found your blog and I’m loving it!
This soup looks incredible especially for Berlin winter.
Just wondering if you think taking out the cream to ‘veganise’ the recipe will put out the balance
Hi Brylee! I think you could totally veganise this. I haven’t made this one in awhile, but I made this slow-cooker butternut squash and apple soup recently, which is similar in makeup (vegetables + fruit) and which is finished with coconut milk, and it’s vegan and completely delicious: https://alexandracooks.com/2016/11/11/slow-cooker-butternut-squash-apple-soup/
I have enjoyed the Pear and Parsnip Soup. Can it be frozen successfully? Thank you.
Yes, absolutely! I’ve had great success freezing nearly every soup I’ve made, but especially the puréed ones.
Do you think coconut milk or cream will work in place of the heavy cream? I can’t use heavy cream or milk.
Gosh, I can’t say! Coconut has such a strong flavor. I’d be more inclined, I think, to recommend something like cashew cream if you’re trying to keep it vegan… is that the goal?
After loving 3 batches of your broccoli cheddar soup, I made this one for a dinner party. A great success! The flavors are very subtle and delicate, and the soup has a lovely fragant aroma. I did use celery root because it nearly jumped into my grocery cart. I didn’t use truffle oil, which I love, but it can be somewhat polarizing with guests. I did double the recipe and made the vanilla-infused almond oil in the original recipe. I thought the taste was a bit odd by itself, but a few drops in the soup really did add another little layer of flavor. Also, I followed your suggestion and used thyme rather than the rosemary from the original. I think the thyme is perfect and that rosemary would have overpowered the subtlety of the soup. It’s lovely recipe and comes together quickly, especially if you have frozen stock in your freezer.
So happy to hear this, Mary!
I made this soup, more or less. Some friends came to stay with us here in Oregon. They started making dinner but had to stop as we went to a level 2 fire evacuation notice. She had left me with a pot of cooked parsnips,a bag of pears, green onion and Creme fraiche. This turned out yummy. Started looking at your site and found the salted beets recipe,will try it tomorrow if we don’t have to evacuate!! Your site looks as if will become a favorite!!
So nice to hear this, Katriona! Thanks so much for writing. And stay safe! I keep reading about the fires. It’s so scary.