The unfamiliar isn’t always easy. It’s a struggle coming up with things to do with food you have never really thought about. I know what a parsnip is and I know what it tastes like but if I saw one at the grocery store I can’t say my heart would start beating any faster. I remember I had an acting class once where there was a killer love scene that everyone had to do and not everyone was entirely enthusiastic about their scene partner and the teacher said, “now listen, it’s your job to find the love, you need to find something that is going to move you about this person. It might be how they smell or the shape of their hands or how much money they have, but whatever it is, you have to find it and love it.”
You can’t cook something that you have no feelings about. I started to think parsnip. It does have a lovely sweet aroma. The texture is nearly a potato and I hunger for potatoes. I started to think of a great big roaring fire and bowls of parsnip soup with thick slices of country bacon on the side and a wedge of sharp cheddar and fried eggs served on bitter greens with a balsamic dressing. My love for parsnip started to come to life.
Make the soup by bringing a pot of salted water to the boil and adding a few pounds of peeled and chopped parnsips with a tablespoon of butter, a bay leaf and three or four peppercorns. In another pan, cook off four to five shallots in olive oil and butter, season with salt, and let them go over a medium flame until completely softened. This is going to take a good fifteen minutes. When the shallot is done, add one small granny smith, and cook til tender. Add the soft parsnip and enough cooking liquid to cover the parsnip. Simmer for a few more minutes and then puree in the food processor. Add a homemade chicken or vegetable stock with half as much cream until you have the consistency you like. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve with a crouton made from a slice of french bread and brushed with olive oil once it’s toaste.