Celery Root and Parsnip Soup with Apple Butter

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Minneapolis is the coldest major city in the United States. We have yet to hit 32 degrees Fahrenheit, which usually happens by first week of October. It’s not that it’s warm- if you don’t live in the North, you might think the air is chilly. But it doesn’t feel like Novembers past. There are still leaves on trees, and I’ve only worn a coat at night. It hasn’t snowed yet. It hasn’t snowed in over 200 days.

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After a turbulent and strange week I would very much like for the weather to follow its predictable pattern. This unanticipated lag is unsettling. I wish for snow, and I fear it won’t come.

In times of stress I cook. This isn’t new news, and I have a feeling that you may have a similar coping strategy. I’ve recently tried to turn more to other people’s recipes, to let them guide me through new ideas and different ingredients. It’s an education and a practice. If you cook frequently you have a vocabulary. You have the ingredients you always keep on hand and your go-to techniques. It’s both a pleasure and a challenge to spend some time with another person’s vocabulary, using unfamiliar words. At the end there’s a new knowledge gained. With a capable guide and a bit of luck it’s good knowledge.

I make soup all winter long, both for warmth and for comfort. Right now comfort is the sole reason for making soup. It’s been a stressful season and it doesn’t seem like it will get any less stressful soon. I found this soup in Sarah Copeland’s Feast, a smart and elegant book on vegetarian cooking. And so here are vegetables and cream and spices all blended together. This is not a groundbreaking recipe, but it’s very good. Celery root and parsnips are cooked with apples and onions, then get blended together with a healthy drink of cream. It sounds fine, but it really very delicious. But then when it’s time to serve there’s a dollop of apple butter, and that sweet/tart apple butter turns the soup from something good to a knockout.

Aaron and I ate this soup for a cozy lunch together with some crusty bread and strong bleu cheese. If you’re into elegant, coursed dinners, this would be an incredible starter for a fall/winter dinner party. And if you’re uninterested in the apple butter, this would make a simple but very tasty dinner.

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Celery Root and Parsnip Soup with Apple Butter

Copeland originally calls for 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger, but when I went to grab our fresh ginger it was gone. The powdered ginger is delicious and significantly easier, so I’ll be using it again in the future.

adapted from Feast by Sarah Copeland

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tart apple (such as a granny smith), peeled, cored, and roughly chopped
1 celery root, trimmed, peeled, and roughly chopped
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
apple butter, for serving
green onions, finely chopped, for serving
olive oil, for serving
Aleppo pepper, for serving

In a large pot over medium heat warm the olive oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softening and becoming translucent, about 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic and the spices, and cook for 1 minute. Add the parsnips, apple, and celery root and 4 cups of water. Season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until the vegetables are soft, between 20-30 minutes.

Once the vegetables are soft remove the soup from heat. Blend, using either an immersion blender or an upright blender, until smooth. Return the soup to the pot and stir in the heavy cream and apple cider vinegar. Taste, and season with salt and pepper as needed. Warm the soup on low heat to serve.

To serve, top the warm soup with a dollop of apple butter, a flurry of green onions, a sprinkle of Aleppo pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

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