Ancho Parsnip Soup

ancho parsnip soup

The story of this soup is not romantic. I wasn't wandering through the farmer's market with my hand-woven basket. I wasn't talking with vendors about their wares or adjusting my straw hat against the spring sun.

I was cleaning the fridge. But you probably already knew that.

This silly pound of parsnips had been knocking around the produce drawer for at least two months. Annoyingly, they would not go bad, which would have given me an excuse to compost them. They were firm as ever, and never seemed to fit into my meal plan. And darn those 4 sweet potatoes next to them. Sick of looking at them.

I didn't engage in many noble pursuits this week. I watched too much TV. The clean laundry is still piled up in the basement. I didn't participate in the Immigrants' Rights March downtown or offer to watch anybody's children. But here's what I did--I rescued these parsnips and sweet potatoes. I made something delicious out of them. Surely that counts for something.

Ancho Parsnip Soup
You can sub yams for the sweet potatoes or use a combo. Some carrots thrown in here would be delicious, too. I happen to have some wonderfully smoky ancho chile powder around here. If all you have is regular chile powder, it will work, but might not taste quite as magical. You average supermarket chile powder is a mixture of chile,cumin, and other stuff.

6 large parsnips, peeled and cut into 2" sticks
4 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
6 garlic cloves
olive oil
coarse salt
2 Tb. ancho chile powder
1/2 c. cream
juice from one large lime
1/4 c. orange juice

Heat oven to 450.

On a large baking sheet, toss parsnips, garlic, and sweet potatoes with lots of olive oil, salt and ancho chile powder. Roast until edges are caramelized and everything is soft, 35-40 minutes. Stir once, halfway through. Take out and let cool down a bit.

In two batches, puree vegetables in a food processor, adding about 1/2 water each time to loosen. Puree until mixture is very smooth, about 2 minutes.

In a large pot, mix puree with cream, lime juice, orange juice, and more water according to your preference. I don't like my pureed soups to be too thick, but it's easier to add more water than to make it thicker, so do it slowly. Add  more salt to taste and more chile powder if you want. Serve with a swirl of cream or sour cream on top.