It really doesn’t take much to encourage soup making in our home. While we might take a little breather from ladling out soups during the warmest months of the year, I’m fully ready to pull out my favorite soup pot with the first tinge of golden leaves or slightest gentle breeze announcing the change of season. From early fall through winter, and most of spring, soups are a weekly feature on our menu.
There are so many ways to go with soup that variety is never a concern. Whether you want a hearty chop of ingredients, both meat and veggie; a veggie-centric or vegan offering; something that satisfies a cultural bent (whether it be Italian, Mexican, Indian, or some other great flavor profile); one that incorporates legumes or pasta; or simply want to clear your cupboards, the options are seemingly endless when it comes to soup.
One path I like to take, particularly with a puréed soup, is roasting veggies. There are so many great partnerships for roasting… and the flavor imparted is magical, particularly when you add a little onion to the mix. The intensity of onions mellows when roasted, resulting in a wonderful, subtle caramelized flavor.
Parsnips are tapered, winter root vegetables that closely resemble carrots in shape. Though related to carrots, parsnips are a touch sweeter and more earthy and nutty in profile. They are also white (actually more beige colored) so easily distinguished from their produce “twin.” They also contain more starch than carrots so they make an excellent thickener for a puréed soup. They are at their peak from fall through spring… so they parallel nicely with the introduction of soup weather… and best in small to medium form (for sweetest, nuttiest flavor).
Roasted along with onion, parsnips get a little caramelized and delicious… easy to eat right off the pan. But a little restraint goes a long way because once they get a little roast on, they improve even more with the addition of fresh, crisp apple. Yes, apple! Oftentimes, the flavor profile of a roasted veggie soup needs a little added sweetener… and this is where Stemilt apples (and pears, too) come in beautifully, adding just the right sweetness to balance most any veggie to perfection.
Added for the last 10 minutes of roast time, a crisp (heat friendly) apple, like Stemilt’s Sweet Tango, Honeycrisp, Braeburn, Piñata, etc. enhances everything good these parsnips and onions have going for themselves. In this particular ladling, I used Stemilt’s SweeTango apple, for its sweet hint of fall spice and touch of acidity… a combination that helps to liven the even flavor notes of parsnip. Stemilt’s SweeTango apple is a versatile fruit, whether you serve it up fresh, add it to a sauce, or feature it in a baked good. Here, it perfectly balances the roasted parsnips and onion for a deliciously flavored soup. The addition of a little topper… a garlicky kale and turkey bacon sauté… adds a welcomed bit of bite to this otherwise stand-alone soup.
(If you want to keep things vegetarian, simply go with a vegetable based broth and omit the turkey bacon… that garlicky kale sauté easily stands on its own. And, if you prefer a velvety finish, you can easily strain the soup after it’s puréed, for a smoother finish. Here it’s left more organic… the way nature intended… and time appreciates.)