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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Method

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.

Links:

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)

 

18 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. Ana

    Just made this it was delicious! I used vegetable broth, which I noticed after buying had some tomato in it so I needed extra parsley to combat the orangey hue. I would advise any vegetarians to watch out for that if getting store-bought broth. Also, my meager blender had a tough time fully pureeing all that parsley but it was delicious in the end just delicious and exciting to watch it turn green! The lemon flavor was so perfect, too. I woke up this morning so thankful that I had eaten it and excited to have some more for lunch today!
    This was my first time cooking with parsnips too and I too really enjoyed the early springtime feel of this dish. Quite seasonally on point! Great recipe!!!!

  6. Marisa

    Thanks, Elise! This was a great recipe. I also had problems with fully blending the parsley into the soup (we got the curly parsley, but I think you used Italian in this recipe), but it was pretty and tasty nonetheless. For leftovers, we ate the soup chilled and it was delicious, almost like vichyssoise.

  7. Cindy

    One of my kids has a rather limited range of vegetables that meet with her approval. Parsnips, for whatever reason, are a big favorite of hers. Thanks for a beautiful looking recipe that I can’t wait to spring on her.

  8. Kate

    I made this last night and it was SO delicious and felt really healthy, too. The strips of lemon peel cooked in and the fresh parsley added at the end, are ideas that I plan to use with other vegetable soups as well, to brighten up the flavor. Thanks for another great recipe.

  9. kimbers

    Had some parsnips on hand and decided to make this soup with some homemade chicken stock. It came out wonderful. I love the freshness of the parsnips, leeks and parsley with the tang of the lemon. This soup would also be good as a palate cleanser after a heavily spiced meal. I will definitely make it again.

  10. Jody Kinney

    Just made it and it’s good and feels so healthful! A request: when you use a number for a quantity, as in 3 leeks, could you also please use weight or cup measurements? Sizes vary so greatly. Thanks so much for your work here, Elise.

  11. Emily

    Hello,

    This is the first recipe from your blog that I’ve used and I wonder what took me so long. This soup was so easy to prepare and quite simply delicious. Luckily there’s also some leftover for lunch today.

  12. Motyka

    Wow! What a great way to explore parsnips. This soup was so fresh tasting. Unlike Joe and Holly, I liked the addition of lemon. I thought it opened up the soup and brightened the flavor. I didn’t really taste a strong lemon flavor. Goes to show we all have different tastes. I used half store bought chicken stock and half homemade veggie stock. Also, I didn’t have much parsley, so i used whatever I had and used fresh basil instead. It was wonderful and beautiful.

  13. Donna

    This looks wonderful for Lent and St.Patrick’s Day! Could I possibly substitute turnips for the parsnips without affecting the outcome in an adverse way?

    Well, parsnips are sweet, like carrots. Turnips tend to be more bitter. You might try it and just see how it turns out for you. ~Elise

  14. farmer jane

    Looking forward to trying this recipe out. I love green soups! (Nettle soup is one of my faves). One question–could you indicate SIZE of leeks? I have one gigantic leek in my fridge right now, and I’ll probably just use that one, as it is easily the size of three “normal” leeks that we would grow on the farm. Thanks so much!

  15. Lisa R

    I made this soup last night and everyone LOVED it! We had a vegetarian over, so did veggi broth, and everything else the same. We were all so amazed with the silky texture. mmm; I can’t wait until lunch when I can eat leftovers. Thanks Elise!

  16. Megan

    This was delicious! I am vegan (swapped the butter for oil and used veggie stock) and I made this tonight for St. Patty’s Day dinner party. We all loved it, even my 1.5 yr old! Excellent w/ a good Irish Soda bread… ;)

  17. Eleni

    I made this soup last night and it was amazing – we devoured it. Had the leftovers for lunch today. I followed the recipe exactly, using veggie stock. So simple and so full of flavor. Thank you!

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