Sunday, November 22, 2009

Creamy Carrot Parsnip Soup: Third Time's a Charm...

Growing up we always had fresh vegetables. We had a garden, as did my grandparents so many of the vegetables on our table where ones we had grown ourselves. My favorites have always included root and other vegetables I associate with fall: fresh from the ground carrots, turnips, rutabagas, sweet potatoes, and parsnips; butternut squash and Brussels sprouts.

Today, from June to December, most of my fruits and vegetables come via my membership in the Farm Direct Coop, a local community supported agriculture group. Each Thursday I drive to the pick up spot and discover which produce is ripe that week. The days when my basket is filled with kale, swiss chard, arugula, and bok choy make for challenging menu planning, but these choices are often supplemented by radishes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and lettuce - vegetables I find easier to plan menus around. Then in the fall, my favorites tend to be among the choices and I spend Sunday afternoons cooking, often making soup or roasting vegetables.

Today's recipe for Carrot Parsnip soup is new to me: I've only made it three times. The first time I loved it, the second time it was rather tasteless, and today - perfect. The difference? Today I followed the recipe exactly. I advise you do the same. The taste will be worth it.

Creamy Carrot Parsnip Soup*

Medium crock pot: makes 4 servings

2 tablespoons rice
1 pound carrots, scrubbed or peeled, and cut into small pieces
1 pound parsnips, scrubbed or peeled, and cut into small pieces
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
1 cup evaporated skim milk
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons ground walnuts

Combine the rice, carrots, parsnips, vegetable broth, and water in the crock pot. Cover and cook on low until the vegetables are tender, about 5 hours on low or 3 hours on high.

Using a hand held blender, puree the vegetables. (Or transfer vegetables to a regular blender, then return to the crock pot.) Stir in the milk and pepper. Heat the soup until hot, about 5 to 10 minutes. When serving, sprinkle each bowl with walnuts.

* Recipe from the Complete Slow Cooker Cookbook by Carol Heding Munson.

So how did I improvise? The first time I made the soup I used skim milk rather than evaporated and I believe I cut back on the water. The second time, I didn't pay attention to the recipe and used more parsnips than carrots and put skim milk into the crock pot with the raw vegetables. The soup was tasteless: I made it edible by adding half and half each time I heated up a bowl...

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