Sometimes, the universe has a way of allowing the stars to align. Like when you walk into a store to realize that your favorite sweater you’ve been longing for is on sale 50% off. Or as you’re leaving late in the morning on your daily commute to the office, but for once, the traffic is going smoothly, and you make it on time to your oh-so-important meeting with the boss. Or when, almost as a sudden image, a mere flash of clarity in your mind, the idea for this soup appears in your head, and the next thing you know, you realize you have all of the ingredients available to make it. Beets, beef stock, parsnips, and just enough cashews to make a delicious cream for garnish.
And when you make it, first allowing the beets and parsnips to roast, putting off the sweet scent of caramelizing sugars throughout the house, then simmering until everything is tender and merry, and finally, tasting a spoonful, you know. It’s as if it was meant to be.
Okay, maybe that’s a little too poetic for a soup from humble beets and parsnips, two of the ugliest winter vegetables of the world, but just look at it. With a little love and a quick puree, homely root vegetables become silky and vibrant. That color alone is enough to chase any winter blues away. Perhaps it’s a bit soon to be thinking of Valentine’s Day meal ideas, but this could be a perfect simple dish to share with a fellow beet-lover. (Or possibly even convert a former beet-hater?)
This soup is easily adaptable. I think that’s the general nature and beauty of most soups – that you can add, change, and omit ingredients to your liking. Want to make this vegan? Just substitute the lard and beef broth for olive oil and vegetable broth – it will be just as lovely. I also think it would be delicious with even more parsnips, but it’s entirely up to you. Whatever you do, be sure to give this a try. It won’t disappoint.
Beet and Parsnip Soup (gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, vegan-adaptable)
1 lb beets, peeled and cut into chunks
3-4 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
3 T melted lard (made from pastured pork fat – here’s a tutorial on how to render lard) or olive oil, separated
1/2 of a large yellow onion, chopped
2 pieces green garlic, chopped (or 4 garlic cloves)
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
8 allspice berries
1/2 t fennel seeds
2 c beef stock (homemade is best – here’s a tutorial on how to make beef stock), or vegetable stock for vegan
1-2 c vegetable stock (again, homemade is best)
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped parsley and Cashew Cream (below), for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the beets and parsnips with 2 tablespoons of the lard and season with a bit of salt. Roast for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of lard in a stockpot over medium heat. Saute onions and garlic for 5 minutes, stirring, until softened. Tie the thyme, bay leaves, allspice berries, and fennel in a piece of muslin to make a bag. Toss the bag along with the beef and vegetable stock into the stockpot. Allow to simmer on low heat until the beets and parsnips are ready, and then add the beets and parsnips to the soup. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes.
Remove the muslin bag from the pot, and then remove from heat for a minute or two. Pour the soup into a blender (or use a stick/handheld blender) and puree until smooth. Return to the pot and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve, garnished with parsley and cashew cream.
Cashew Cream (gluten-free, soy-free, vegan)
1 c raw cashews, soaked in water for a few hours
1/3-1/2 c filtered water
juice of 1 large lemon
About 1/2 t of salt (to taste)
Drain the soaked cashews and place in a high-powered blender along with 1/4 cup of the water, the lemon juice, and the salt. Blend on a medium-low speed, stopping to scrape down the sides, until smooth. Add additional water as needed to thin the cream just enough so that it can be drizzled over the soup. Store remainder, refrigerated, for 3-4 days.
This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free.