A sumptuous, warming winter soup with sweet, earthy parsnips, fragrant rosemary and with some added crunch from a scattering of toasted hazelnuts. This soup is really easy to make and even easier to eat – perfect when you need a bit of nourishment and comfort.
It is January, it’s freezing cold, in the UK we are in our third lockdown, and I have essentially gone in to hibernation mode. Lots of sleep, lots of blankets, very warm socks, and lovely, hearty, comforting food to provide a bit of brightness on even the most miserable of days.
This parsnip soup is ideal; it’s really simple to make, packed full of vegetables, thick and smooth, and utterly delicious. A drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of toasted hazelnuts are a great accompaniment to add a bit of texture, and if you don’t have hazelnuts then walnuts would work, as would sunflower or pumpkin seeds for a nut-free option. I would recommend serving this with big slabs of sourdough smothered vegan butter, possibly while still in your pyjamas.
I am not one to adhere to strict quantities or even ingredients when it comes to soup, taking more of a chuck everything in that needs using up sort of approach, but for this you really want the parsnip flavour to sing through. However I’ll give options for substitutions you can make for the other ingredients so use can use what you have.
How to make parsnip and rosemary soup
As with most soups, alliums are a good place to start. I used a medium sized brown onion, but you could use a red onion instead, a couple of leeks, some shallots, or a bunch of spring onions (whites only). Roughly chop them and add to a large saucepan over a medium heat, with some olive oil. You don’t want them to brown, just soften, so turn the heat down if it looks like they’re starting to catch.
While the onions are sizzling away, roughly chop a couple of sticks of celery, and peel and roughly chop a small carrot and two cloves of garlic. These will provide a few extra layers of flavour in the background. If you don’t have celery you could sub in a leek, if you aren’t using them already, and you could just add a bit more parsnip in place of the carrot. If you’re out of garlic, half a teaspoon of garlic granules would work instead, or leave them out. I chop and add the vegetables to the pan as I go, but always leave the garlic until the onions are completely soft and just starting to get a little colour. At this point add the garlic and stir for a couple of minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients.
Make up some vegetable stock and pour this into your saucepan, giving everything a good stir. Peel and roughly chop your parsnips and add these in, along with 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary, or 1 tsp dried rosemary. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 25–30 minutes until everything is completely soft. Whizz with a stick blender, or whatever else you have, until completely smooth.
For the toasted hazelnuts
You can buy hazelnuts pre-toasted, in which case just give them a bash in a pestle and mortar, or put them in a bag or wrap in some kitchen paper and smack a few times with a rolling pin.
If you have raw hazelnuts, you can toast these in a frying pan over a medium heat until the skins are starting to peel and char, about 7–8 minutes, or put them in a hot oven (about 180C fan) for 6–7 minutes. Tip the hot hazelnuts into a tea-towel, bring the edges of the tea-towel together and rub the hazelnuts vigorously to loosen their skins. Extract the toasted hazelnuts and bash away. If there are still a few scraps of skin remaining that’s fine, it’s pretty much impossible to get rid of all of it. And if you’re using walnuts, sunflower seeds or pumpkins seeds, these just need toasting in a dry frying pan until they’re starting to brown slightly.
To serve, put a couple of ladles of soup in a bowl, drizzle over a little olive oil and scatter over the crushed nuts or seeds. Add a few chunks of your favourite bread on the side and you have a deliciously warming, wintery meal.
Please let me know if you give this a try! You can comment below or find me on Twitter or Instagram @greedybearbakes.
Parsnip and Rosemary Soup with Toasted Hazelnuts
A sumptuous, warming winter soup with sweet, earthy parsnips, fragrant rosemary and with some added crunch from a scattering of toasted hazelnuts.
Vegan, Gluten-free, Grain-free, Soya-free, Nut-free option
- (See notes for substitutions)
- 1 tbsp olive oil (plus extra for drizzling)
- 1 onion
- 2 sticks celery
- 1 small carrot
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 large parsnips (approx. 400–450g)
- 750ml vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary (or 1 tsp dried)
- Salt and Pepper
- 50g toasted hazelnuts (sub. sunflower or pumpkin seeds for nut-free)
- Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Peel and slice 1 onion and add to the pan. Stir frequently and turn down the heat a little if it starts to brown. Roughly chop 2 sticks of celery and stir in with the onions, and peel and roughly chop 1 small carrot and add to the pan. Make up 750ml vegetable stock.
- Peel and roughly chop 2 cloves of garlic. Once the onion is completely soft and starting to take on a little colour (after about 10 minutes), add the garlic and fry for another couple of minutes, ensuring it doesn’t burn, then pour in the vegetable stock.
- Peel and roughly chop 2 large parsnips and add to the pan, along with 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary. Bring everything to the boil, then turn the heat to medium-low, put a lid on the pan and simmer for 25–30 minutes until all of the vegetables are completely soft.
- If your hazelnuts are not pre-toasted, put a frying pan on a medium heat, add 50g raw hazelnuts and cook, shaking the pan frequently, until the skins are starting to blacken and peel away. Tip into a clean tea-towel and rub the hazelnuts vigorously in the towel to remove most of the skins. Then tip into a pestle and mortar and bash a few times to crush them, or bash them with a rolling pin while they’re still wrapped in the tea-towel. If your nuts are pre-toasted skip to the bashing, and if you’re using seeds, they’ll just need to be toasted in a frying pan for a few minutes until starting to brown.
- Blitz the soup with a stick blender or other blender until completely smooth. Taste and add some salt, and plenty of pepper, as necessary. Ladle into bowls, drizzle with a little olive oil and scatter over the toasted hazelnuts or seeds.
A few options for substitutions: Instead of an onion you could use a couple of leeks, shallots, or a bunch of spring onions (whites only), and you could also use leeks instead of celery. You could miss out the carrot and add some extra parsnip instead, and substitute the garlic cloves for ½ tsp garlic granules.