Healthy Ingredient of the Week – Parsnips

Parsnips are root vegetables that are closely related to carrots.  They’re in season right now, so you’ve probably seen them in your grocery store’s produce department.  Maybe you were unsure of what they were the first time you saw them – I’ll forgive you if you mistook them for a funny-looking carrot that you didn’t know how to incorporate into a meal.  Parsnips can be substituted for carrots in many dishes, but they also have a unique flavor – and nutritional profile – of their own.  Parsnips are low in calories and a good source of fiber, Vitamin C, and folic acid.  I like making parsnip “fries” that I slice into small rectangles, flavor with a little olive oil and whatever seasoning combination I’m in the mood for, and bake at 425° for 25 minutes.  Parsnips can also be used in stir-frys and even added into mashed potatoes!  Here, they’re pureed into a healthy winter soup.

Roasted Parsnip Soup

2 pounds parsnips, peeled and woody core removed
2 pears, peeled and cut into eighths
1 small yellow or white onion, peeled and cut into eighths
1 tablespoon canola oil
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 ¼ cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, or vegetable broth
2 ¼ cups low-fat milk


  1. Position rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 450°F.
  2. Toss parsnips, pears, onion, oil, and pepper in a roasting pan. Roast, stirring every 10 minutes, until very soft and starting to brown, about 40 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, boil vinegar in a small saucepan until syrupy and reduced to about ¼ cup, 10 to 14 minutes. (Watch the syrup carefully during the last few minutes of reducing to prevent burning.) Remove from the heat.
  4. Puree half of the parsnip mixture with broth in a blender until very smooth; transfer to a large saucepan.
  5. Puree the other half with milk until very smooth. Add to the saucepan.
  6. Reheat the soup over medium heat, stirring often, about 5 minutes.
  7. Gently reheat the balsamic syrup if it has become thicker than syrup while standing. Ladle the soup into bowls and drizzle with the balsamic syrup. Serves 6.


Recipe from Eating Well magazine, November/December 2008 

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