Parsnip Soup with Leeks and Parsley

Green is the color of Ireland, which you understand immediately if you’ve ever been there or even flown over it. Looking over the land from several thousand feet up, one cannot but be struck by the patchwork of vivid shades of green below. Or driving through the countryside, especially in Western Ireland, the hills practically glow when the sun peeks through breaks in the clouds.

We’ve been experimenting with parsnips lately, and on a whim tossed a large bunch of chopped parsley into a simmering pot of parsnip soup. Parsnips are naturally sweet, as are leeks, which are also part of this soup. The crisp bitter of the parsley delivers a contrast and balance to what might otherwise taste a little too one-dimensional. And the color! Such a beautiful, vibrant green. Perfect for St. Patrick’s Day, and a celebration of all things Irish.

Parsnip Soup with Leeks and Parsley Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6.

Parsnips can sometimes have tough, fibrous cores, especially if they are late in the season. If as you are cutting your parsnips you find the cores to be especially tough, cut them out and discard.



  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 3 leeks, white and pale green parts only, sliced lengthwise, cleaned, sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • 2 strips lemon zest, 1 x 2 inches each
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 cups chicken stock (use vegetable stock for vegetarian option)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups finely chopped fresh parsley (reserve a little for garnish)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Pepper to taste


1 Heat butter in a 4 to 6 quart pot on medium heat. Add the chopped leeks, toss to coat with the butter. When the leeks are heated enough so they begin to sizzle in the pan, lower the heat to low and cover the pan. Cook until soft, but don't let the leeks brown.

2 Add the parsnips and olive oil, and toss to coat. Sprinkle on the salt. Add the stock and water. Add the strips of lemon zest. Bring to a boil and reduce to a low simmer. Cover and cook until the parsnips are completely tender, at least 30 minutes.

3 Remove and discard the lemon zest. Add the parsley. Purée the soup until smooth, either by using an immersion blender or by working in batches with a stand-up blender. If using a standing blender, fill the bowl no more than halfway, hold the cover on the blender bowl, and start blending at the lowest speed. Return the puréed soup to the pot.

4 Stir in lemon juice and add more salt to taste, if needed.

Garnish with freshly ground black pepper, a little olive oil, and chopped parsley or chives.

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Roasted parsnip and apple soup from Guilty Kitchen
Swiss chard and parsnip soup from Chocolate and Zucchini
Carrot Fennel Parsnip Soup from Mostly Foodstuffs

Parsnip Soup with Leeks and Parsley (photo)


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Showing 4 of 19 Comments

  • mantha

    This is lovely! A real “spring cure” kind of soup, after a long, heavy winter. If there’s any up yet where you are, I would suggest a few leaves of young, tender wild wood sorrel (“little shamrocks”) as a garnish. They are edible when young and have a fresh, tangy flavor similar to lemon.

  • Marisa

    I don’t know if this is a silly question, but can you ever eat the tops of leeks (the dark green part)? How do people use them? This recipe looks amazing. I’m going to buy a bunch of leeks and also try the braised leek recipe.

    The greens of leeks are edible but pretty tough. They make a great addition when you are making stock, either vegetable stock or chicken or turkey stock. You could also chop them, braise them, purée them, and run them through food mill for a sauce or soup. ~Elise

  • Mica

    What a stunning bowl of soup! I’m going to give this one a whirl.

    I also just want to say, Elise, that I consult your website almost daily… and anything I’ve ever made from this archive has turned out beautifully. Thank you for all your hard work.

    You’re very welcome Mica. Glad to know you are finding the site so useful! ~Elise

  • Shorthand

    This looks divine! What a great idea not only for St. Patrick’s Day, but also Lenten Fridays. Stupid question: why is it so hard to find parsnips in South Louisiana? They are only available sporadically, but rest assured, I will try this whenever I do get my hands on some.

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