Parsnip Soup with Leeks and Parsley

Soup and StewSt. Patrick's DayIrishGluten-Free

Beautiful vivid green parsnip leek soup! Made with sautéed leeks, simmered with parsnips and stock, pureed with fresh parsley.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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.

Parsnip Parsley Soup

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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Showing 4 of 16 Comments / Reviews

  • Brc

    I didn’t have 2 full cups of finely chopped parsley left in the garden by the time the parsnips were ready to come out of the garden, post-frost. That’s a ton of parsley. So mine was just tinged green. The parsley should probably sit in the hot broth a bit if it’s not baby leaves– it stays in tiny flecks instead of fully blending if it’s older/tougher. The joys of cooking from a garden instead of a grocery store– less than perfect but truly seasonal products, unless you are a super-farmer ;) Otherwise it’s pretty yummy!

  • Nancy Joy

    I made this to use up the CSA parsnips. I don’t even like parsnips but the soup was so delicious! Thanks, Elise.

  • 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

  • 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!!!!

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