Cream of Parsnip Soup with Sage & Walnuts

        From the blog For Love of the Table

3 to 4 T. unsalted butter

4 large shallots (about 5 to 6 oz.), sliced

1 large leek—white & pale green parts only—trimmed, halved lengthwise, sliced (to obtain 1 to 1 1/4 cups) and rinsed well in several changes of water

1 sage sprig


1 1/2 lbs. parsnips, trimmed, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch half moons

4 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock


3 1/2 T. olive oil, divided—plus more as desired

12 to 15 sage leaves

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped medium fine

Salt & pepper

1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic


Water as needed (about 2 cups)

2/3 cup heavy cream


In a heavy soup pot set over medium heat, melt 3 T. of the butter.  Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent—about 10 minutes.  Add the leeks, the sprig of sage and a good pinch of salt.  If the pan seems dry, add the remaining tablespoon of butter.  Continue to cook until the leeks begin to collapse—about 4 to 5 minutes.  Add the parsnips and cook, stirring occasionally, until the parsnips have begun to soften on the surfaces—about 5 to 7 minutes.  Pour in the stock.  Raise the heat, bring to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the parsnips are tender—about 12 to 15 minutes. 


While the soup cooks, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small sauté pan.  Add the sage leaves and cook until they have crisped and turned translucent.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the walnuts and stir to coat.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place the garlic in a mortar and pestle and pound until smooth.  Pound in a pinch of salt.  Pour in the sage and walnut mixture, along with another 2 tablespoons of oil.  Pound lightly.  Taste and correct the seasoning with salt.  Add more olive oil to achieve a consistency that pleases you.  Set aside while you purée the soup. 


When the parsnips are tender, remove the sage sprig.  Purée the soup.  If the soup is too thick to move freely in the blender, add a bit of water.  Strain the soup into a clean pot; add the cream and heat through, adding more water if the soup is too thick.  Taste and correct the seasoning with salt.  Serve with a spoonful of the sage and walnuts drizzled & dolloped over the surface of the soup. 


Makes a scant 2 quarts soup.


(Recipe adapted from The Art of Simple Food II by Alice Waters)