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chow chow chowder

Recipe: parsnip chowder

From the moment we entered the month of March, life got busier. It wasn’t unexpected because I could see the colored tags that flooded my calendar starting in March into April through… November. It’s all good in my book. We kicked it off with a special 15th anniversary dinner at Frasca. I think Frasca is Jeremy’s favorite restaurant. In fact, I know it is. From the moment I placed the reservation, he could not shut up about going there for dinner. It was phenomenal, just like every other time we’ve been there.

appetizer sampler: cured meats, grissini, frico caldo, batter-fried shrimp

tortelloni: agribosco borlotti bean and house-made mortadella

maine sea scallops, caviar, cauliflower, meyer lemon

torta di cioccolato: chocolate cake, passionfruit caramel buttercream, mac nuts, dark chocolate gelato

sfogliata: puff pastry, brown butter-hazelnut frangipane, banana, hazelnut crumble, custard gelato

I think March also stands for Maintenance because we’re doing a lot of that with the cars, the house, our outdoor gear, my photo equipment, finances, the dog, and well… everything. Perhaps it’s that spring cleaning thing? And speaking of spring, some of my friends in other parts of the country have started talking about the arrival of strawberries. We here in Colorado are months off from strawberries. For me, spring is merely a sunnier, warmer, corn-snowier, cheery version of the winter ski season. Soup is still on the menu.

so are parsnips

potatoes, parsnips, onion, parsley, milk, half and half, butter, bacon

peeled parsnips, washed potatoes and parsley

We always forget how much we love parsnips until we taste that sweet, earthy spice of this root vegetable. It looks like a white carrot with exaggerated proportions. They are cousins. I willingly eat the hell out of both. So this recipe for parsnip chowder appealed to me when I was looking to change up our soup rotation. A big pot of soup lasts for several days around here.

diced: parsnips, potatoes, onions

oh, did i mention there is bacon?

There is bacon in the soup which arguably makes any soup irresistible. Actually, the bacon is merely a garnish. The bacon grease goes into the soup. If you want to keep this vegetarian, omit the bacon and use olive oil instead of bacon grease. I’m all for making it your own soup.

brown the onions

add the diced parsnips and potatoes

It’s a relatively fast recipe to bring together: prep the vegetables, fry the bacon (or not), sweat the onions, simmer the parsnips and potatoes, stir in the fat butter, milk, and half and half.

pour milk in after the vegetables are soft

add butter and the half and half

This is a fairly dairy-heavy recipe. While I have a fondness for dairy, my GI tract disagrees. I’ll have to look into swapping the dairy out for chicken broth or coconut milk. I wouldn’t mind adding some carrots and greens to the soup as well. The parsnips make it fairly sweet. That’s why a good and salty garnish of bacon and an herb like parsley play off the sweetness and creaminess so well.

garnish with bacon and parsley, serve with bread

makes a nice lunch

Want a little excitement? Add a couple of pan-seared scallops to the soup and wow your dinner companion(s). Talk about awesomer. Go get some.

top with scallops

dinner for wooing

Parsnip Chowder
[print recipe]
from The Complete Book of Soups and Stews by Bernard Clayton, Jr.

4 cups parsnips, peeled and medium dice
grease from 5 slices bacon (reserve the bacon for garnish) or 2 tbsps olive oil
1 cup onion, small dice
3 cups new potatoes, medium dice (I left the skins on)
2 cups boiling water
4 cups milk
3 tbsps butter
1 cup light cream or half and half
salt to taste
black pepper, freshly ground to taste
2 tbsps parsley, chopped (to garnish)

If your parsnips are large (older) then you may want to discard the core of the parsnip that may be especially hard and woody. If you plan to use bacon as a garnish and want to use the bacon grease in the chowder, then fry it up in a skillet over low heat until the bacon is crisp. Remove the bacon strips to a paper towel to drain. If you don’t want bacon as a garnish and don’t want to use bacon grease, then heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan (the one you’re going to make the soup in). Either way, you’re going to brown some onions in bacon grease or olive oil over medium heat for ten minutes or until lightly browned. If you’re not in the saucepan already, put the browned onions into a large saucepan.

Add the parsnips and potatoes to the onions and pour in two cups of boiling water. Bring it to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cover the pot and let it simmer for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes and parsnips are tender. Add the milk and let the soup come back to boiling, but keep it at a simmer. Stir in the butter and the light cream or half and half. Season with salt and pepper to taste (I added at least 1 teaspoon of salt if not more). Ladle the soup into serving bowls, crumble bacon on top, and garnish with chopped parsley. Serves 6.

Fancy pants move: Pan sear some scallops and serve them atop the soup. Seriously amazing.

20 nibbles at “chow chow chowder”

  1. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar says:

    Love this! I need a new soup recipe too. Yum!

  2. Ursula says:

    Recipe sounds awesome. My grandmother’s technique for avoiding cream in “creamy” soups- start with a pale roux, and thin gradually to the desired consistency with vegetable broth. She would make the broth with the same vegetable that went into the soup to reinforce the flavor.

  3. Connie says:

    This is a wonderful recipe. I think I will try it with chicken stock, heavy cream and those darling little scallops. It has been too long since I have had parsnips.

  4. Jessica | Oh Cake says:

    Gorgeous soup. Glad I found your blog! Some pureed cauliflower and evaporated milk could help lighten the heaviness. Great recipe, though!

  5. Theresa says:

    Any chance you could fly this over to my house for lunch today? Scallops are my favorite and that chowder looks to die for. Anything less for lunch is going to be an enormous disappointment.

  6. Margie says:

    Perfect timing….

    I have everything with the exception of fresh parsley. This fall I discovered that beauty, the parsnip, and have added it to pot roasts and New England dinners. Making soup? I hadn’t a clue.

    Muchas gracias! :)

  7. Claudia says:

    All I can say is YumWoW! Oh, and Happy Anniversary to you and Jeremy! :) Hugs from Mariposa

  8. Charlie says:

    Jenn: Looks and sounds good.

    Thanks for sharing!


  9. Vicky says:

    Looks delicious! I’ve got a few extra parsnips laying around and this would be the perfect use of them!

  10. Pauline says:

    Wow!! That looks really yummy….will defintely be trying this out this week end. Thanks for the recipe. :-)

  11. Caitlin says:

    I just read your entire blog, I forget what initial recipe brought me here, but now I’ve stockpiled about 50+ recipes I NEED to try, including this parsnip chowder, yum! I just finished making choco-crisp cookies and they were great! You are awesome. I am now obsessed with use real butter. You are a phenomenal chef, photographer, doggie mommy, survivor and great person! Cheers! Now, I only wish I lived in Colorado so we could be friends!

  12. Eileen says:

    Big laugh on me! I get to your site by Googling, and always get a slight preview in what comes up. Today, it was “torta di cioccolato: chocolate cake, passionfruit caramel buttercream, mac nuts, dark chocolate… ***Jump for more butter**. Well, I eagerly jumped — into a pot of parsnip chowder! Let me tell you, for a second I was shocked, SHOCKED. I love chowders of all kinds, but it was a bit of a surprise to find parsnip soup when I was drooling in anticipation of a marvelous pastry recipe!
    The good-enough-to-eat images of your fabulous anniversary dinner ALMOST made up for the surprise. (Big smile) And the parsnip chowder looks like a winner. I think i will try it — and have a lovely chocolate pastry for dessert!

  13. Debs @ The Spanish Wok says:

    Nice soup, I always only think of parsnips at xmas!!!!

    You are welcome to join in my food blogger event THE SOUP KITCHEN, here all bloggers are welcome, hope to see you participate soon.

  14. says:

    Beautiful photos!

  15. Kirsa says:

    looks delish. Coconut milk is very rich in fat, try out some almond milk intead, it substitutes beautifully for dairy products, and tastes great as well (medieval cookbooks have a lot of that). and if you avoid dairy, you can even freeze it ;)

  16. jenyu says:

    Katrina – it’s super easy and really satisfying!

    Ursula – I was seriously considering ways to avoid using dairy, but chowders really are delicious with dairy. I decided to make it as directed and have to say it’s awesome. Now perhaps, I’ll toy around with other options :) Thanks for the tip!

    Connie – I hope it turns out! I thought of using chicken stock too :)

    Jessica – It’s not super heavy, it’s just super “dairy”, you know? I need to find a way to sub the dairy, but the cauliflower puree sounds good (or maybe just some parsnip puree?)

    Theresa – ;)

    Margie – I love parsnips. They’re so sweet and almost nutmeg or clove flavored.

    Claudia – thank you! xoxo

    Charlie – thanks!

    Vicky – I hope you like the soup. I was surprised at how good it was.

    Pauline – you’re so welcome!

    Caitlin – You’re so sweet, thanks :)

    Eileen – ha ha, sorry to disappoint :) The soup is good, but it’s definitely not the same as a fancy dessert!

    Debs – thanks, I probably missed it and I just don’t have time to join any events online these days.

    Kirsa – thanks for the tip!

  17. How to Cook with Parsnips | Healthy Parsnip Recipes says:

    […] Parsnip Chowder […]

  18. katesjc6189 says:

    A beautiful recipe, one that has definitely put parsnips on my must buy list instead of being relegated to the roasties.

  19. …friday favorites… says:

    […] Making this next topped with pan-seared scallops, yum! […]

  20. breeann says:

    Late to the comment party but wanted to suggest a dairy-free cream alternative to any new readers: cashew cream.

    Soak 3/4c raw cashews in 1c of warm water for about 20minutes. Then blend for a few minutes (this can take time but important to blend well) in a blender until no longer grainy or gritty. It will be a mild cream. People don’t even realize it’s not real cream.

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