PARSNIP SOUP WITH FRIED SAGE
by Sur La Table with Janet Fletcher
Parsnips may look like pale carrots, but their sweet, nutty flavor and slightly starchy texture are closer to chestnuts or Japanese sweet potatoes. Pureed with onions and broth, they make a velvety soup the color of ivory. Float crisp fried sage leaves on top for a dramatic garnish, or top more simply with a sliver of butter and sprinkling of chives.
• 1½ pounds parsnips
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1/2 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
• 1 large celery rib, thinly sliced
• 5 cups chicken or vegetable broth (if canned, use equal parts broth and water), plus more if needed
• 6 thyme sprigs
• Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 12 fresh sage leaves
• Kosher or sea salt
1. Peel the parsnips with a vegetable peeler and trim the thick stem end. Remove any part of the slender tip that is thinner than a pencil. Cut the trimmed parsnips into manageable lengths of about 3 inches, and then quarter lengthwise. With a paring knife, cut away and discard the hard central core. Cut the trimmed parsnips into 1/2-inch dice. You should have about 5 cups.
2. Melt the butter in a large, heavy pot over moderate heat . Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring often, until the onion starts to color, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the parsnips, broth, and thyme sprigs and bring to a simmer. Cover, adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook until the parsnips are tender, about 20 minutes.
3. Remove the thyme sprigs. Let the soup cool slightly, then puree in a blender or food processor until smooth, in batches if necessary. Return the soup to a clean pot and reheat to serve, thinning to the desired consistency with additional broth. Season with salt and pepper.
4. While the soup reheats, prepare the garnish. Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over moderately high heat. Add the sage leaves in batches and cook quickly, turning once or twice, until crisp, about 1 minute total. Transfer the leaves to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with salt. They will crisp more as they cool.
5. Divide the soup among warmed soup bowls. Garnish each portion with 2 sage leaves. Serve immediately.