Courtesy of Christine Bullock
Humans have survived for thousands of year by eating seasonally. Before there were farms to grow specific vegetables and fruits year round, and before there were means to preserve them, humans chose what they ate by looking at what was available at the time. Seasonal eating means creating meals that focus on fruits and vegetables that nature produces at the current time to get the benefits of high vitamins and minerals (and a good value for your wallet).
This week I share with you one of my favorite soups: Pear and Parsnip, which is packed with nutritional gold from parsnips, pears, and leeks which are in season fall-early spring.
Parsnips are a sweet tasting root vegetable closely related to carrots. In one half-cup serving of cooked parsnips, you get three grams of dietary fiber with only 55 calories. Parsnips are also a source of vitamin C, folate, and Manganese.
Fiber is great for your skin because it slows the release of sugar into your blood. Sugar spikes damage collagen, which is the protein that keeps your skin smooth and plump. Therefore, a high fiber diet can keep your skin looking and feeling young.
Vitamin C, a potent antioxidant, can help keep free radical compounds from damaging DNA. Both pears and parsnips are full of vitamin C, which also promotes the health of bones, your immune system, skin, and teeth.
Both leeks and parsnips are full of folate, which helps energy metabolism and promotes nervous system health and function. Sufficient folate intake may lessen your risk of heart disease, depression, and age-related hearing and vision loss.
So what are you waiting for?
Pear & Parsnip Soup
1 1/2 pound of parsnip, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3 leeks (white part only), sliced and cleaned
3 French shallots, finely diced
4 cups of organic, low-sodium vegetable broth
3 pears, peeled, and cored, and chopped
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon of maple syrup
1/2 cup of milk alternate, like almond, coconut, or rice milk
sea salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, combine the chopped parsnips with the olive oil, mixing well to make sure the vegetables are well coated. Spread the parsnip on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with nutmeg, then sea salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes, turning the vegetables at the mid-cooking point.
2. In a large pot, melt the oil over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and shallots and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium-low and keep cooking, stir-ring once in a while for 4 minutes. Add vegetable broth, roasted parsnips, diced pears, bay leaf, thyme, and maple syrup. Stir well. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Remove pot from heat and remove the bay leaf. Allow
it to cool a bit.
3. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup finely, or puree in batches in a standing blender. Incorporate the coconut milk, taste the soup and adjust the seasoning.
Use fresh parsnips within 3 or 4 days of purchase, as they decrease rapidly in vitamin C content the longer they are exposed to light, air, heat, and water. I also recommend only chopping it as you prepare your meal (not beforehand) for the same reasons.
Pro tip: portion leftovers into reseal able bags and freeze for an easy lunch or dinner any time!