roasted carrot & parsnip soup with spicy brown butter

Have you all seen this commercial for “Lurpak Lightest,” an incredible eat your veggies mantra, masquerading as a commercial for reduced-fat Danish butter? My colleague Kim is rolling out a “Give the Healthy Choice a Voice” competition for BPS students this spring, and in that context, I’ve been humming the healthy doesn’t have to taste hum-drum tune the past couple weeks at work.  The commercial which, like all internet-based discoveries, came to me via John, is the work of Dougal Wilson, who also directed this charming little Christmas number.

In the spirit of peel-peel-peel-peel peeling! and roast-roast-roast-roast roasting!, I set about cooking up a warming pot of soup this past weekend.  The recipe is inspired by this contest winner from Food 52, albeit with parsnips sneaked in alongside the carrots.  Sadly though, the Lurpak commercial left me not only with a hankering for some colorful vegetables, but also for some butter.  Here, it’s in the form of a browned butter drizzle spiced with intense crimson red chili powder Kim carried back from a recent trip to India.  [Pictured above: so fresh, you can see the oils & moisture in a chili that’s worlds apart {cough, cough} from supermarket chili powder.] This, along with a scattering of toasted pepitas left over from a recent batch of granola, made for a fragrant and creamy pot of still relatively healthy winter soup.

I realize, for me, this is a somewhat ironic recipe choice for Ash Wednesday, aka the first day of Lent.  Be that as it may, it’s a perfect choice for any of you who celebrated Mardi Gras or as we Canadians like to call it, Pancake Tuesday, yesterday.  Happy eating and/or fasting to all!

One Year Ago: Poha with Yogurt & Honey Fried Bananas + Savoy Cabbage Dolmas with Eggplant.

Makes about 1 quart of soup and serves 4-6.  

Roasted Carrot & Parsnip Soup (adapted from Food 52)

  • 5 cups good tasting chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
  • 10 oz each carrots and parsnips (I used about 6 small carrots and 3 medium parsnips), peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely minced
  • Spicy brown butter (recipe below) & toasted pepitas for topping

Preheat the broiler.  Combine the stock, thyme, and ginger in a medium sauce pan.  Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer 15 minutes to infuse the stock with flavor.  Meanwhile, toss the carrots and parsnips with 2 tbsp olive oil and a little salt.  Place on a sheet tray about 2 inches from the flame and broil, stirring every 5 minutes, until browned and somewhat softened – about 15 minutes total.  Browning the vegetables here is key to the deep flavor of the soup. 

While the carrots and parsnips are roasting, place the onions and the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil in a medium soup pot and cook over medium-low heat until slightly caramelized – about 10-12 minutes total.

Once the carrots and parsnips are roasted add them, along with the garlic to the cooked onions.  Remove the ginger and the thyme from the stock and add this also.  Bring everything to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer 10 minutes until the vegetables are quite tender.  Puree with an immersion blender or transfer to the food processor and process in small batches.  Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.  Serve topped with a drizzle of the spicy brown butter and a few toasted pepitas.

Spicy Brown Butter

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ¼ tsp fresh ground chili (use chili flakes  or very finely chopped fresh chili if you can’t find a good ground chili)
  • Dash of salt
  • Dash of smoked paprika

Place the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat.  Watch the butter closely – it will first melt, then sizzle, and then, as it becomes quiet, it will take on a brown color and begin smelling like toasted nuts.  Once the butter reaches this point, transfer to a small dish and stir in the remaining ingredients.  The butter can be made several days ahead and kept refrigerated.  Before serving, microwave a few seconds to warm.

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