Vegan Cream of Celery & Parsnip Soup with Fresh Basil

A couple of weeks after the move the dust is settling, the number of boxes dwindling and the kitchen functional again.  Making soup signals a slow return to normalcy, as does a silent mental note that parsnip is an underappreciated vegetable.

Parsnip’s sweet and earthy flavor is a distinctive (and may I say distinguished?) addition to roasted vegetable medleys and mashes of all kinds.  In soup, it works either as a small diced bite or in a comforting cream like this one.

Yield: 10 cups

What you need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped, 2 cups
  • 1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ajwain seeds (if unavailable, substitute with celery seed and a pinch or two of thyme)
  • 1/4 teaspoon savory
  • 4 cups chopped celery, get a bit of leaf in there too
  • 2 cups peeled and chopped parsnip
  • 1/4 cup pearl barley
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews (soaked overnight and drained if working stovetop rather than pressure cooker)
  • 6 cups unsalted vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1-3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup loosely packed chopped basil leaves
  • fresh basil chiffonnade for garnish (optional)

What you do (pressure cooker or electronic pressure cooker version):

  1. In the pressure cooker, heat the oil over a medium flame and add the onions. Sauté until translucent.
  2. Add the garlic, ajwain and savory and toss until fragrant – about a minute.
  3. Add the celery, parsnip, barley and cashews and toss to coat in the onion and spices.
  4. Add the water and broth, fit the lid and bring to pressure for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the pressure to release naturally (or quick release if you’re in a hurry). For those with an electronic pressure cooker, 15 minutes on soup cycle with natural pressure release.
  5. Open the lid once the pressure is released, add the salt and cup of fresh basil leaves. Use a stick-blender to blend the soup until it’s thick and creemy.
  6. Serve with toast on the side and a generous portion of chiffonnade on top.

What you do (stove-top version):

  1. In a thick-bottomed soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over a medium flame and add the onions. Sauté until translucent.
  2. Add the garlic, ajwain and savory and toss until fragrant.
  3. Add the celery, parsnip, barley and cashews and toss to coat in the onion mix.
  4. Add water and broth and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer until all the ingredients are quite soft. This will take 45 minutes or so, the filaments in the celery need to be very well cooked.
  5. Add the salt and fresh basil leaves.  Use an immersion blender to process until creemy.
  6. Serve with some toast on the side, garnished with a generous portion of chiffonnade.

 

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