With two major holidays to celebrate in the next few weeks, a good recipe for a tasty starter is always welcome. This one includes two autumn favorites — tart apples and sweet parsnips. Parsnips have a unique growing season, and where other vegetables thrive in the spring and summer, the peak seasons for this hardy root vegetable are the fall and winter. Parsnips can withstand cold, even freezing temperatures, and most agree they taste better and sweeter when they’re harvested after the first frost which converts starch to sugar and gives them a pleasant sweetness. When paired with a tart Granny Smith apple and aromatic spices like curry, cumin, and coriander, this soup provides an elegant starter for a Thanksgiving or Christmas lunch. It’s featured in my soon-to-be-released new cookbook Festive Flavors of Ireland. To order a signed copy, visit irishcook.com

PARSNIP & APPLE SOUP WITH PARSNIP CRISPS

Serves 8

SOUP

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium onion, chopped

2 pounds parsnips, peeled and sliced

1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and sliced

2 potatoes, peeled and cubed

6 cups homemade chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

Salt

Ground black pepper

1/2 cup half and half

Chopped chives, for garnish

Parsnip Crisps, for serving

PARSNIP CRISPS

1 large parsnip

2 tablespoons canola oi, for frying

Salt

Ground black pepper

  1. Make soup. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until soft but not browned. Add parsnips, apples, and potato; stir to coat. Cover pan, reduce heat, and cook, stirring once or twice, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until vegetables are slightly tender.
  2. Add stock or broth, curry, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. Bring to boil; reduce heat, cover, and cook, stirring constantly, for 35 to 40 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Working in batches, transfer soup to a food processor or blender; purée until smooth (or purée in pot with an immersion blender). Return soup to saucepan, stir in half and half; simmer until heated through.
  4. Make crisps. With a vegetable peeler, peel parsnip; discard peel. Continue peeling into long, thin strips. Spread strips out on a paper towel to dry slightly.
  5. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Working in batches, fry strips for 2 to 3 minutes, or until strips twist up and crisp. With a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  6. To serve, ladle soup into shallow bowls. Sprinkle with chives; top with crisps.

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