I’ve pretty much always hated parsnips. I love their orange counterpart, but there is something about the parsnip that has consistently left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Pun intended. Thank goodness that they were a rarity at the dinner table growing up. Otherwise, I might’ve had to seriously consider running away…which seems rather counter-intuitive because I couldn’t have asked for more loving parents or for a better upbringing…but the parsnips…let’s just be glad that they reared their very ugly heads only once in a blue moon, and that I never had to make that decision.

It wasn’t until I was at my in-laws’ for dinner, and Anthony’s mom made roasted vegetables, that I came to gain a certain, reserved, appreciation for the little albino-carrots. Not knowing that they had been included in the lovely, caramelized, medley, I enquired about the unidentifiable sweet component. Parsnips?! Uhhh…

…everything that I thought that I knew about the world had been suddenly turned on its parsnippy head.

Good thing I have an open mind…or maybe it was a better thing they were sneaked onto my plate when I lowered my guard and was totally, naively, trusting; unaware of the parsnip treachery that was going on right under my nose. Irregardless of who or what deserves the credit, the outcome is: I don’t totally hate parsnips anymore.

To further show you how open-minded I can be, I went out this week to buy some, specifically so that I could incorporate them into the following recipe. Good on me.

This celeriac and parsnip soup is so easy, requires few ingredients, and is wonderful and comforting. Who knew that these two incredibly ugly veggies could come together and truly shine. The ugly duckling really can become a beautiful swan.

Actually, to be honest, I think that the celeriac is kinda cute. In a non-traditional, give-the-poor-guy-a-chance sort of a way…

This soup recipe was awesome on its own, but to give it an even greater nutritional boost, I opted to make and then add a generous scoop of homemade “pesto” into each soup bowl. The beautifully-white soup became an equally-beautiful light green and benefited from a power packed punch of spinach, mixed herbs, and raw almonds. The thing about pesto is that, despite what traditionalists say, it doesn’t have to be made out of basil, pine nuts, parmesan, and oodles of oil. Take something(s) green, buzz it together with some garlic and your nut of choice, maybe add a bit of citrus zest and juice, salt and pepper, and BOOM. Presto pesto. I used one garlic clove, a small handful of raw almonds, lime zest and juice, a few big handfuls of spinach, a couple of handfuls of cilantro and parsley leaves, a bit of fresh tarragon, a wee bit of extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and then thinned it out with water, as needed. Just throw all of your choice ingredients into a food processor, turn it on, and voila! You could add a cheese of choice, but it’s not necessary. With all of those fabulously healthy ingredients, a simple spoonful is virtually like eating a little salad.

With or without the addition of pesto, this soup is a winner.

Celeriac & Parsnip (& Pesto) Soup

Adapted from Taste Food

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 celery root, about 2 pounds, peeled, cut in 1/2 inch pieces

2 large parsnips, about 1 pound, peeled, cut in 1/2 inch pieces

2 garlic cloves

6-7 cups veggie stock

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2-3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2-1 cup light sour cream, optional

Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add celery root, parsnip and garlic cloves. Sauté until fragrant and vegetables begin to soften without coloring, about 3 minutes. Add 6 cups of veggie stock and the thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until vegetables are very soft, about 30-40 minutes. Carefully transfer in batches to bowl of a food processor, or use an immersion blender, and purée soup until smooth. Return to pot. Add additional 1 cup stock  or enough for desired consistency. Stir in pepper, salt, and sour cream, if using; heat through but don’t bring to a boil if using the sour cream. Taste for seasoning. Add a heaping spoonful of homemade pesto, if desired. Serve hot.

I’m still not totally sold on parsnips, per-se, but, partially thanks to this soup, I probably wouldn’t find myself looking for my suitcase should they come to dinner. Baby steps.