A luscious, creamy soup full of seasonal flavors, and topped with crunchy homemade garlic croutons. Perfect for your Thanksgiving table, holiday entertaining, or a weeknight meal!
It’s soup season – we’re in the thick of it, so to speak. Already this fall my family has been enjoying bowlfuls of delicious pumpkin, carrot and winter squash soups, and now I’m ready to mix things up! I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time to get a little crazy… with parsnips!
Yes, I did just say that “getting crazy” for me at this point involves cooking with parsnips. When my highschooler reads this, she’s sure to roll her eyes in embarrassment as she did the other day when I was jamming to a Flo Rida song in the car from her playlist. I told her it was a parent’s job to embarrass their teenager as much as possible, and that lucky for me, it’s something I don’t have to work that hard at. 😂 So that’s ok! I’ll own my adult lameness… because we need to discuss the glories of parsnips.
Parsnips are inherently sweet, balanced by a nutty earthiness, which is a wonderful compliment to other fall and winter vegetables. Parsnips are most often treated as flavor enhancers – utilized in homemade vegetable or chicken broths, sometimes tossed into a mix of oven roasted veggies, or used in stews. And while our family thoroughly enjoys a big sheet pan of oven roasted parsnips (we make a big batch around Halloween-time and call them “witches fingers”), they’re often the unsung hero in a more robust dish. They have quite a distinct taste, which can be overwhelming to some when served on their own- but when mellowed by other root vegetables, they add an unmistakable touch.
Harvested after the first frost, parsnips are in peak season right now, so get ‘em while they’re hot! Once parsnips sit in storage for a while, they become woody and less flavorful.
This soup exemplifies the proverb, “What grows together, goes together.” Apples, potatoes, shallots and garlic come together in perfect harmony with the flavor of the parsnips. (Make no mistake, though, in this soup the parsnip takes center stage, and receives a helping hand from root veggie friends).
I plan to serve this as part of our Thanksgiving meal, so will make another batch in the next few days and pop it in the freezer. One item which can be ticked off the holiday prep to-do list… and it’s not even November!
My homemade croutons are outta this world delicious, and provide a necessary textural and savory counterpoint to this velvety soup.
If they look familiar, these croutons bring the ZEST in my White Bean & Celery Root Soup with Sausage that you may have seen in my new cookbook.
Or if you haven’t yet ordered a copy, find out more about my book here! You may want to snag a couple more and check something else off your list… they make great holiday gifts 😉.
Any tips or tricks?
- Be careful when blending hot liquids. See my video on how to do so safely.
- The half and half is optional. It makes for a creamier and more luscious soup, however, the soup is wonderful without it as well. You may need to increase the amount of vegetable broth or water to reach desired consistency if you do not use half and half.
- If you want to serve this as part of a larger meal, such as for Thanksgiving, these recipe proportions will serve upwards of 10 people, maybe 12 depending on how many other dishes you have. Use small soup bowls, ramekins, or if you had a set of vintage tea cups, that will look so cute!
Can I make this ahead of time?
A resounding YES!
- The soup can be made two days ahead and refrigerated, or can be frozen for up to a month. Do not add the half and half until serving, if making ahead.
- The croutons can be made a few hours ahead and stored in an airtight container. Crisp them up in a hot oven or toaster oven before serving, if making them ahead.
Parsnip Apple Soup with Garlic Sage Croutons
For the soup:
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or use olive oil
- 1 medium shallots chopped
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 ¼ pounds parsnips, about 3 medium, scrubbed clean and cubed
- 1 medium apple peeled and cubed
- 1 medium russet potato about ½ pound, peeled and diced
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- ½ cup half and half optional
For the croutons:
- 3 cups cubed sourdough bread
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large garlic cloves minced
- 6 sage leaves chopped
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Melt the butter or olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the shallots and ½ teaspoon salt, and cook over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the parsnips, apple, potato, bay leaf, thyme sprigs and vegetable broth, and bring to a simmer. Partially cover and cook until all the vegetables are tender, about 25-30 minutes.
- Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs and let the soup cool slightly before blending (see how to safely blend hot liquids). Puree the soup in a blender until completely smooth, then transfer back to the pot. You may need to do this in batches,and you may need to add up to a cup of water or more vegetable stock to facilitate blending. Taste the soup for seasoning and add more salt if needed. This will depend on the brand of vegetable broth that you use, so taste and adjust accordingly.. (I used a low-sodium vegetable broth, and the soup needed almost 1 ½ teaspoons more salt) If using the half and half, stir it in and keep the soup warm over low heat.
- To make the croutons, warm the oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the bread and cook, stirring, until it starts to turn golden brown. Once it has toasted evenly, turn the heat to low and add the garlic, sage and salt. Cook for a minute, stirring, then remove from the heat.
- To serve, ladle the hot soup into bowls and garnish with croutons and fresh thyme.