Parsnip Vichyssoise with Crispy Parsnip Chips
Classic leek and potato soup is a perfect vehicle for parsnips. Serve this chilled.
2 medium leeks
1 T. butter
1 T. canola or olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 - 4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 lb. potatoes, peeled and chopped (about 3 medium Yukon gold)
1 lb. parsnips, peeled and chopped (4 - 5 small or medium parsnips)
1 t. fresh thyme
4 c. chicken or vegetable stock
2 c. water
salt and pepper
1/2 c. half and half or whipping cream (optional)
1 parsnip, peeled and sliced into shavings with a vegetable peeler
1/3 - 1/2 c. canola oil
Slice the leeks in half lengthwise before you wash them – sand and grit tends to work their way in between the layers so you have to be thorough. Thinly slice the white and pale green parts crosswise and throw out the dark green tops.
Set a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the butter and oil. Sauté the leeks, onion and garlic for 7 to 8 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the potatoes, parsnips, thyme, stock and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the soup for about 30 minutes, until the potatoes and parsnips are tender. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
Purée the soup in a blender or food processor, or use a hand-held immersion blender right in the pot, adding more water or stock if the soup seems too thick. If you’ve used a blender or food processor, return the soup to the pot, set it over medium heat, and stir in the milk or cream. Heat through without boiling.
To make the parsnip chips: Heat the canola oil in a small saucepan over medium heat until it’s hot but not smoking. Test the oil with a piece of bread held with a pair of tongs – the bread should sizzle immediately when it touches the oil. Working in 3 to 4 batches, transfer the parsnip strips to the hot oil with a fork (be sure to protect yourself from spatters from the hot oil – use an oven mitt and keep your face and torso away from the pan). Cook the chips until they’re lightly browned, about 1 to 2 minutes, then drain them on a paper towel. Set the parsnip chips aside until the soup is ready to serve. Serve the vichyssoise chilled, topped with parsnip chips. (The soup can also be served hot if you prefer.) Serves 6.