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SGIKS: Parsnip Soup

January 26, 2010
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Last year at this point in time, I was cooking a lot.  Just about every day I made dinner for myself and four twenty-something guys. [The former fiancé and three Texans that moved to NY for a few months to try something new].  The challenge back in January 2009 was cooking on a budget and feeding 5 mouths – 4 of these mouths being of guys that seemed to be able to “eat for days”.  Back then, unfortunately, I wasn’t too concerned with making the healthiest decisions for my life, or anyone else’s.  I was more concerned with making the least expensive, largest volume meals I could.

The challenge now, in January 2010 is a lot different.  I am now cooking for one, and even the “least healthy” of my meals these days would trump the health factor in the best of my meals back then.  Thanks to Eat In Month, I have been trying lots of new recipes this month. Sometimes, trying new recipes can be a bit of a challenge for me.

I currently live in the “almost marriage apartment turned bachelorette pad” on my own.   I have learned to get pretty creative to make sure I am not

a) spending a BUNCH of money on non-bulk ingredients which usually cost more.
b) forcing myself to eat the same recipe for 6 meals straight due to an overwhelming amount of leftovers.
c) popping a frozen meal in the microwave
d) forgetting about nutrition for the sake of keeping things easy [read: pizza rolls and ice cream]

All this to say, I’ll be showcasing some tips over the next several weeks on how I handle the Single Girl in Kitchen Situation. [SGIKS]

One things that I have come to found very important for every home cook, no matter if cooking for one or one dozen, is to buy produce in season.  It’s a great way to save money and rely on a quality, fresh product.

Before going grocery shopping, while I was planning my meals for the week, I had the urge to try something new in the produce department.  I knew just where to turn for inspiration:

100_1936Everyday Food’s Great Food Fast
from the kitchens of Martha Stewart Living

My absolute favorite detail about this cookbook is not the beautiful photographs.  It’s not the simple ingredient lists filled with supermarket items rather than specialty foods it takes me a year and a half to track down, or the truth behind the word “fast” in the title.  It’s the table of contents and the layout of the recipes. As Martha puts it in the introduction,

You’ll notice we divided the recipes here by season.  This is because we tend to use different cooking techniques at different times of the year…I crave different flavors depending on the season too.

I agree, Martha!  And because it is the cold, cruel January of upstate New York, I fast forwarded right to the “Winter” chapter of the book and came across this fabulous soup recipe featuring a vegetable I hadn’t yet tried to cook with – the Parsnip!

Creamy Parsnip Soup

Ingredients
2 TB butter [I used earth balance]
1 pound sliced leeks
1 pound parsnips, trimmed, peeled, and cut crosswise into 1 inch pieces
2 apples, peeled cored, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 baking potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces [i used a white russet]
1 can, 14.5 ounces, Chicken Broth [i used vegetable broth]
1/2 cup heavy cream
Coarse Salt & Ground Pepper

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For double the lessons on new produce, I realized I had never worked with a leek before, so I followed the books “preparing leeks” instructions:

First cut away and discard the leek’s root and dark green leaves.

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Thinly slice the white and light green parts crosswise into rounds:

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Wash the leeks.  Leeks can be extremely dirty and are best cleaned after they’ve been cut.  Soak cut leeks in a bowl of cool water.  Lift them out, replace the water and repeat until no grip remains at the bottom of the bowl.  Drain on paper towels.

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Sliced and Cleaned Leeks, ready to be used.

Recipe Instructions

Heat butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the leeks.  Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.

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[while the leeks were cooking, I finished preparing my parsnips, apples, and potato, which basically all looked the same after peeled & diced – can you pick out which pieces are which?]

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quick side tip: a while ago I was reading one of my favorite blogs of all time, kitchn and came across this tip:
save your vegetables for making homemade stock.
I always keep a bag of vegetable stems and unused pieces in the freezer collecting so I can make homemade stock.  It takes about 4 cups of vegetables for 1 pot of stock.  Read this post to learn what vegetables are best to use, and more information on the subject.100_2304

Add the parsnips, apples, potato, broth, and 4 cups water.

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Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until the vegetables are tender; 20 to 25 minutes.

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Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth.  Return it to the pot; stir in the cream.  Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Apparently having to stand by in the kitchen smelling the goodness that is this soup, my camera was apparently hungry and ate the photo of the soup in the blender. use your imagination. if it helps at all, my blender has an olive green base and is from the year 1971.

Single Girl in Kitchen Situation Step: After the soup has cooled separate the soup into individual plastic containers.  I like to use different sizes.  In this case, I filled three small containers with about 1 cup of soup each, two medium containers with 2 cups of soup each, and one large container with 3 cups of soup.  Freeze/Refrigerate soup as needed. [Goldilocks was not around for this, although I’m sure she would have approved.]*  In this case I froze all but 1 small container of the soup.

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the reasoning behind the Goldilocks principle: sometimes I just want a cup of soup to eat along with a sandwich or large salad.  Sometimes I want to eat an entire bowl of soup by itself.  Sometimes I want to eat soup with a friend.  One. Two. Three.

This soup was SUPER tasty, easy to make and very economical to prepare.  The entire recipe probably cost less than $7 all together.  Such a deal when you consider you get 10+ cups of soup!

What is your favorite kind of homemade soup? This soup has easily made my list of top three, along with Pumpkin & Black Bean Soup and my Mom’s Potato Soup 🙂

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. January 26, 2010 11:51 pm

    Oh, I’m loving the looks of that soup. Great job…10 cups of soup and under $7. Thats when you have to love cooking.

  2. January 27, 2010 7:08 am

    This looks DELISH!!!!! I am so impressed. 🙂 I love all soups, but just made some potato soup this weekend that was amazzzzing.

  3. fromatopink permalink
    January 27, 2010 9:54 am

    That sounds SO good, and good for you! I, too, need help cooking for one – the bf and I do NOT eat the same things (at least not 99% of the time). That means I also have the problem of too many leftovers, thus getting sick of whatever I’ve made. Thanks for sharing this – I will definitely be following along with SGIKS. 🙂

  4. Sweet and Fit permalink
    January 27, 2010 10:28 am

    this looks great! my favorite kind of homemade soup is chicken barley!

  5. January 27, 2010 11:19 am

    I was wondering how to make my own stock — thanks!

  6. January 27, 2010 11:44 am

    I recently read about a cookbook that I picked up at my local library and quickly fell in love. Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything.” I have been reading it (like…actually reading) for the past two days. It’s over 1000 pages, it has EVERY RECIPE EVER in it and also includes tips on a lot of things. From just two days of reading it, I can already tell that it’s actually making me a better, more independently thinking cook. And, of course, I’m going to have to buy it now.

  7. January 27, 2010 2:50 pm

    Oh WOW! I’m so glad you posted this. I’ve been wanting to try both parsnips and leeks! This is definitely going on my weekend cooking list!

  8. January 27, 2010 4:46 pm

    Ok, I’m a single girl in the kitchen, and while I LOVE to cook, I tend to have to limit the amount I can do, or my freezer overfills in a very, very short amount of time. Sometimes I wish my other single friends were into cooking so we could do meal swaps (as in we’d all make one batch of a meal we love, portion it out into ziploc containers and then all swap. Seriously. Then you get a bunch of DIFFERENT meals!). Alas, they hate cooking. With a passion.

    Oddly, I was totally having this conversation at lunch with co-workers regarding meal planning… Apparently my go to easy dinner consisting of an entire bowl filled with steamed broccoli and side of mary’s crackers with goat cheese is a completely acceptable dinner in my books but not in their husbands minds.
    At least I eat broccoli and not the tub of ice cream I have buried in my freezer!
    I will checking often for your tips!
    thanks!!

  9. January 27, 2010 6:15 pm

    I love the “freeze soup” method… I basically cook like I’m a single girl cause my husband’s taste buds are so different from mine and I finally decided to stop compromising my health for his taste buds!

    My favorite soup this month is butternut squash, apple, and curry! Gotta love the immersion blender for helping create nice and creamy soups (with no cream!)
    I look forward to more SGIKS posts 🙂

  10. February 1, 2010 3:14 pm

    I LOVE that cookbook. Sadly for me, I cannot find it anywhere!?! I don’t know where I misplaced it within my tiny apartment and am very sad about this. I really love the single girl take on recipes too, so true!

    I haven’t tried this soup yet, but the broccoli soup from that book is fabbbbulous. Oh, Martha. Sigh.

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