Since the arrival of cooler weather, at least once a week I’ve found myself pulling out the stockpot to cook up a batch of soup. Classic butternut squash and chicken noodle are both in the rotation, but I recently found inspiration flipping through Vanessa Croessmann’s “Awesome Vegan Soups” (Page Street Publishing Co., $20.82), which I’ve kept in my home stacks since it was published in 2017.
Her recipe for Creamy Parsnip Pear Soup interested me less for its vegan bent and more for the unique pear and parsnip duo. She’d intended to make parsnip apple soup but didn’t have enough apples on hand. Rather than run to the store, she grabbed pears from the fruit bowl.
Besides swapping seasonal fruit, there’s additional room for freewheeling with this thick as a bisque recipe. I opted to add a bit of milk, which gives the soup more creaminess and softens the sweet, nutty flavors of the parsnips. Don’t follow my course if you want to stick with a vegan route.
I also tinkered with the garnish. Croessmann calls for finishing the dish with a swirl of a balsamic reduction (if you don’t have the 15 minutes to make the reduction by cooking down balsamic vinegar, you can purchase balsamic glaze or saba balsamic vinegar at most major grocery stores and specialty markets) and freshly chopped parsley. Garnished that way, it would be a lovely starter for Thanksgiving. However, this seasonal soup is thick enough to stand up to a meaty adornment of bacon, sauteed mushrooms and toasted walnuts over a dollop of sour cream. It’s not vegan, but it, too, is delicious.
Whichever garnish direction you take, be sure to serve this soup with warm, crusty bread.
— Adapted from “Awesome Vegan Soups” by Vanessa Croessmann (Page Street Publishing Co., 2019).
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