Parsnip, Leek, and Ginger Soup...and a Misty Winter Ramble

Oh, the woes of post Christmas indulgences.  The cookies, the pies, the peppermint sticks, and the creamy eggnog.

How do we descend from these lofty luxuries back into a pattern of health and wellness?

I see the juicing craze has taken over the internet.  From one blog to another beautiful juices are summoning those who are need of diet contrition.

Try as I might, I just cannot adopt the 'juicing' regime.  But, a healthy regime that fits perfectly with our resolve to vanquish our excesses... soup.  

Pulling out my favorite soup cookbook is like sitting down and  revisiting with an old friend.  

"Sit down and pull up a chair" I say as I begin flipping through the gorgeous photos of winter soups, hearty soups, spring soups, summer soups and so on.  

I often choose soups by season and after going on a really long, cold, very early morning walk the other day, I chose this parsnip soup.

Fog rolled in and blanketed the entire landscape.  I headed straight to the lakes to see the beautiful balancing act between the ripples of smooth lake water and the ghostly swirls of misty fog as they danced with one another.

Everywhere I looked, shimmering water droplets shuddered in the early morning chilliness.

Birds all lined up like beads on a necklace and snuggled next to one another to keep warm.

Root Vegetables.  I love the sound of that.  Root vegetables.  I am completely enamored with life in the late 1800's.   The practice of storing root vegetables in the cold cellars to provide nourishment throughout the long winters sounds so very seasonal to me.

Learning how to eat by season has turned into somewhat of a hobby for me.  In today's world, it is so easy to have berries in the kitchen year round that I am often amused at how little I really know about food and the natural growing seasons of fruits and vegetables.

Take parsnips for example.  The 'classic' of root vegetables.  They are an interesting root vegetable. Parsnips provide folate, calcium, potassium and fiber.

There is a parallel between the anticipation of holiday favorites like peppermint sticks during winter and molasses cookies in the fall to ushering in vegetables like parsnips in winter and asparagus in the spring.

Root vegetables really do deserve their own celebration during these long grey days of winter months.

Root vegetables in the brassica family — like turnips, kohlrabi and rutabaga — contain many of the same antioxidants as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and kale.

It isn't really necessary in today's world, but saving these seasonal fruits and vegetables to enjoy during their natural growing season is a satisfying practice for me.  

Winter = winter soups.  With a copious amount of staid root and tuber vegetables.

Tuck in.  Enjoy the warmth of a filling bowl of parsnip soup with hints of pungent ginger and a dash of white wine.  It's time to celebrate and welcome to our tables the beautiful assortment of hearty winter soups.  

Parsnip, Leek, and Ginger Soup
(serves 4-6)
adapted from the cookbook "Soup" published by Hermes House.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups sliced leeks
2 tablespoons peeled and minced ginger root
5 cups roughly chopped parsnips
1 1/4 cups dry white wine
5 cups vegetable stock or water
salt and freshly ground black pepper
fromage blanc and paprika, to garnish

Heat the oil in a large pan or dutch oven.  Add the leeks and ginger and cook slowly for 2 to 3 minutes until the leeks start to become soft.  

Add the parsnips and cook for 7 to 8 minutes longer until they begin to become soft.

Pour in the wine and stock or water and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the parsnips are tender.

Purée in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Season to taste.  Reheat and garnish with a swirl of fromage blanc and a light dusting of paprika.

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