Silky Parsnip and Sunchoke Soup

by | Nov 24, 2008

I am really proud of myself for this one, guys. You could probably guess I was a little nervous about what to do with my parsnips and sunchokes. I find both these vegetables a little alien and I have only recently started experimenting with them.

Following my gut and combining them in a soup with leeks turned out to be a stroke of genius.

The soup I made is really simple. But do not be deceived, the subtle complexity of the flavor it packs is absolutely divine and the creamy texture of the sunchokes makes it luxuriously silky.

The finishing touch is the juice and zest of a Meyer lemon, an addition that brightens and balances the creaminess of this soup. In a pinch you could use a regular lemon, but I really recommend making an effort to find the real thing.

Because this soup is so easy it is perfect for a weekday lunch or dinner. But the rich, earthy flavors would make an excellent first course for your Thanksgiving meal as well.

Silky Parsnip and Sunchoke Soup


  • 3 large parsnips
  • 5 medium sunchokes
  • 1 large leek
  • 3-1/2 cups cold water
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1/2 Meyer lemon
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Scrub and peel the parsnips and chop them into small slices (in half in necessary), about 1/3 inch thick. Scrub the sunchokes as well, but do not bother to peel them. Instead use a pairing knife to remove any rough patches. Cut the sunchokes into 1/4 inch slices.

Clean the leek very carefully and chop it into thick sections, as described previously. In a large soup pot heat olive oil and add leeks. Saute the leeks for about 2 minutes, then add the parsnips and sunchokes. Lightly salt and pepper. Continue to saute, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables become soft and partially translucent.

Add 2 cups of water and the bouillon cube to the vegetables and bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the vegetables are completely tender, turn off heat and add the remaining water. Use a hand blender* to finely puree the vegetables.

Before I got to this step I was certain that I was going to end up straining this soup. Most good pureed soups need straining to thin them out. While you are welcome to do this, I found it was not necessary if I pureed the vegetables long enough, probably because of the texture of the sunchokes. This does take some patience, however. Puree the mix for at least 5 minutes.

Once you have finished blending the soup you can heat it up again if necessary. Otherwise, squeeze the lemon half into the soup and add the zest (leaving some aside for garnish). Adjust salt.

Ladle soup into bowls, garnish with zest and freshly ground pepper and serve. You can drizzle more lemon juice on top as well, it is delicious.

*Note: I am of the opinion that whoever invented the hand blender deserves a Nobel prize. These things make pureeing soup a snap, and are easy to store and clean. This is the one I use (I have also added this item to my sidebar if you want to purchase it from Amazon). If you do not have one and want to make this soup immediately, a regular blender will suffice. However, be very careful when blending hot liquid and do not fill the blender more than halfway at a time unless you want to be doused with scalding hot soup. Hold the lid down firmly with a kitchen towel for your protection.

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11 Responses to “Silky Parsnip and Sunchoke Soup”

  1. Nicholas says:

    Was soup all that you had for dinner then? I think I’d be starving after a dinner of just soup. How are you not hungry after dinner? And how long does a batch of soup last? I’ve never made a soup before (except from a box), I don’t know If you could make myself do it.

  2. Darya Pino says:

    Nicholas:No, it wasn’t all I had. I also had some marinated black radish. The soup would have been great with some greens or crusty bread, but my fridge is a bit bare since I am leaving town tomorrow. I ate 2 bowls of soup and froze the rest.I admit I was a little hungry afterward, but I roasted a quince for dessert. It was interesting; will probably try again before writing it up.

  3. Michelle says:

    i’m unreasonably afraid of sunchokes and parsnips…i really should figure these out because your soup sounds delicious! And as for hand blenders, yes, a godsend for soup making.

  4. Darya Pino says:

    Be brave Michelle! They’re yummy! (But I totally feel ya, weird veggies they are).

  5. Mike says:

    Sounds weird that a sunchoke is a vegatable. It looks so much like ginger, which I definately wouldn’t consider a vegatable.

  6. Anonymous says:

    So what else can you do with sunchokes besides soup?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Wow, this soup sounds great, can’t wait to try it!

  8. Anonymous says:

    So you followed your gut on this one and it looks like it turned out okay. How often do you try a recipe and it fails? For me its more often than not whan I try a new one =(

  9. Katie says:

    Every time I come to your blog and see the picture of this soup I want to try it so bad! I’m have this salty/savory idea in my mind….mmmmm!

  10. Darya Pino says:

    anon3:It depends on what you mean by fail. If you mean that something doesn’t turn out the way I expect, that happens pretty regularly, about once every week or two. If you mean I make something inedible, that happens less often.If you start with good ingredients, it is hard to mess something up so badly that you can’t eat it. Burning is really the only way that happens, and I try to err on the side of under-cooking rather than over-cooking. The worse that ususally happens is the texture gets off in some way, but as long as it still tastes good you can always improvise 🙂

  11. Natalie says:

    This looks delicious! How many servings does it make?

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