On my first morning back in New York after Christmas-ing and blizzarding in New Jersey, I dragged myself, slightly woozy with a head cold, over to the little Friday greenmarket that sets up on west 97th near Columbus.
The market is small but well-equipped, and open year-round (yay!). I like the greenmarket in winter; I don’t easily tire of root vegetables, squash, or apples. And as long as I have a steady supple of kale I’m a happy girl (the yogi thinks this is endlessly hilarious). Come March I may change my tune, but for now things are looking good.
My market selections were the usual for this time of year: whole milk and plain yogurt from Ronnybrook, apples and pears, kale, baby turnips, parsnips, carrots, onions, an enormous head of Napa cabbage, and a dozen eggs. I wanted to grab a few more things, but when the bags are groaning and I can barely scuttle from one stall to the next under the weight, I’ve got to admit it’s time to stop.
In my congested fog I unfortunately managed to lose a butternut squash – I remember giving it to the guy weighing the produce at the farmstand, and probably paid for it, but when I was unpacking my loot at home, no butternut. Bummer. I considered returning to claim my lost squash. It was a plump beauty. But by that time I had already begun sauteing onions, parsnips, and carrots to make this soup. It smelled so good. And I was quite hungry. I decided I could wait till next week for squash.
All was forgiven once I dug into a steaming bowl of this creamy, golden goodness. Parsnips and carrots mingled together to create a sweet, earthy, nutty base, with apple to brighten things up, the throat-tingling heat of fresh ginger, and hints of smoky cumin and herbaceous coriander seed. Gussied up with a swirl of tangy yogurt and crispy toasted pumpkin seeds, plus a drizzle of peppery extra-virgin olive oil (because I like to add a drizzle of olive oil to pretty much everything), the soup was warming from the inside out. Good preparation for a cozy afternoon nap.
creamy parsnip and carrot soup
Makes about 6 cups.
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for drizzling on top
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
2 parsnips, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds (about 1-1/2 cups)
4 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds (about 2 cups)
1 apple, peeled and chopped (about 1 cup)
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp coriander seeds, crushed in mortar and pestle or roughly ground in a spice grinder
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
sea salt and black pepper
1/4 cup pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds)
1/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
- Heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot.
- Saute the onion, parsnip, and carrot, seasoned with a pinch of salt, until lightly caramelized and starting to soften, 5 to 8 minutes.
- Stir in the apple, ginger, garlic, coriander, and cumin, and cook for another minute. Pour in enough water to cover the vegetables (about 5 cups), and stir to release the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add another pinch of salt and a couple of grinds of black pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer until the carrots and parsnips are very tender, 30 to 40 minutes.
- While the soup simmers, toast the pumpkin seeds over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed pan (I use my cast iron skillet for this), until they are golden and fragrant. Remove from pan immediately and toss with a sprinkling of salt.
- Allow the soup to cool for a few minutes before pureeing in a blender in small batches (no more than one-third full, with a towel on top of the lid and firm pressure to avoid a blender volcano!). Rinse out the soup pot and add the pureed soup. Reheat for a few minutes and add more salt and pepper, to taste.
- Serve the soup with a spoonful of yogurt swirled into each bowl and a sprinkle of pepitas on top. And drizzle of olive oil, too, if you like.