This sort of weather just begs for a warm and hearty bowl of soup, doesn’t it?
Actually, it’s this sort of world that begs for a warm bowl of soup and some companionship. We hear on the news each week about another mass shooting, and somedays it becomes so hard that tears overflow onto our keyboards and we just want to hide in our homes, away from the ills and evils of the world. Instead, we serve up soup, in hopes that warming people’s bellies will also warm their hearts, in hopes that the littlest actions of kindness will build up against the random acts of violence.
Am I overly optimistic? Yes, yes I am, but I’m also an overly sensitive soul, one of those people who cries at images of rescue dogs and tosses our Wall Street Journal directly into the recycle each morning because I can’t bear to read the news. Instead, I strike a match and light the candle of hope on our Advent wreath, because hope is, along with love and kindness, the most necessary virtue of our era. And then I retreat into the comforting space of my kitchen and pour my heart into baking or cooking to feel better about the world.
We need comfort food also, don’t we? Admittedly, food will not cure the evils of this world, but it doesn’t mean that comfort food can’t help us along in our everyday lives. I’ll always be a believer in the simple power of a good meal to lift saddened spirits, foster companionship, and rejuvenate our weary selves.
No matter our situation in life, each of us has our own little struggles and sadnesses that require comfort, and sometimes that comfort can be as simple as a warm bowl of soup. During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, when our to-do lists pile high and our appointment book overflows, we crave that tiny bit of comfort in our day, even if it is just a warm bowl of dairy-free potato and parsnip soup.
Let’s lighten the tone a bit and discuss this dairy-free potato and parsnip soup, shall we?
This potato and parsnip soup is a creamy, hearty, slightly spicy, and healthy meal that comes together in under 45 minutes. It’s a rather simple meal to make with a concise ingredients list: stock, shallots, russet potatoes, parsnips, light coconut milk (the boxed, not the canned kind), salt, pepper, and paprika.
I highly recommend making your own stock. It’s quite simple: for stock, simply toss the leftover bones from a whole roast chicken or turkey, onions, celery, and carrots into a large pot of salted water and simmer for 3-4 hours, Alternatively, you can omit animal bones for a vegan/vegetarian stock. Since I’m frugal and hate to waste food, I freeze the scraps of onions, celery, and carrots to have on hand for whenever I want to make stock, and then I just use the bones of our most recent roasted bird. Stock keeps well in your freezer, so store and freeze any stock that you won’t use within a week.
For this dairy-free potato and parsnip soup, I left the skins on the potatoes. Why? In addition to laziness (let’s call that efficiency), the skin of the potatoes contains most of the fiber and a good amount of the vitamins and minerals. Russet potatoes actually boast a strong nutritional profile, especially for the needs of a runner. A medium russet potato with the skin contains 4 grams of fiber, 37 total grams of low-glycemic carbohydrate, 5 grams of protein, 10% of your daily iron, 13% of your daily magnesium, 31% of your vitamin B6 and 27% of your daily potassium.
Parsnips add an additional nutritional boost and a depth of flavor to this soup. The peak season of parsnips is in the middle of winter, so now is the optimal time to enjoy this root vegetable. Nutritionally speaking, parsnips provide a significant dose of fiber, potassium, and folate. In terms of taste, they bestow a slightly sweet and very earthy, almost nutty, flavor upon this soup, which elevates the simple flavor of the potato without overwhelming it. Don’t peel your parsnips, either! In addition to saving you time and not wasting a bit of the food, most of the flavor of parsnip is found in the peel. Instead, scrub them thoroughly, trim the stems (and freeze those for stock!), and chop the parsnips.
Finally, the coconut milk adds an undeniable creaminess (just like it did in this curry) and subtle hint of sweetness to the soup that balances the spice from the paprika. The coconut milk blends smoothly into the soup and increases your satiety from this soup with its healthy fats. This husband-approved soup will fill you up for hours with just one bowl…although you may go back for seconds because it tastes that good.
This dairy-free potato and parsnip soup tastes just as good, if not even better, the second day. It makes phenomenal leftovers and you can easily prepare it in advance for busy nights. Add to that the fact that this comforting soup will nourish your mind and body during even the dreariest parts of winter, and I’d say we have a healthy comfort food winner here.
- 1 tablespoon olive or grapeseed oil
- 2 shallots
- 4-5 cups stock (chicken or turkey; vegetable for vegan)
- 2 1/2 pounds of russet potatoes, scrubbed and cleaned
- 2 large parsnips, scrubbed and cleaned
- 2/3 cup light coconut milk
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Peel and thinly slice the shallots and add them to the pot. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened.
- Chop the potatoes and parsnips into large cubes. Add the potatoes, parsnips, and stock to the pot. Increase the heat to medium high to bring to a strong simmer, and then reduce to medium low and let cook for 20-25 minutes, until the potatoes and parsnips can be easily pierced with a fork.
- Use an immersion blender to puree the vegetables and broth in the pot, or carefully transfer to a blender or food processor and puree and then return to the pot. Stir in the coconut milk, salt, pepper, and paprika.
- Serve immediately or keep in the fridge for up to four days.
Want more healthy, delicious, and budget friendly recipes to fuel your running? Consider purchasing my e-cookbook, which offers over 50 nutritious recipes plus cooking tips.
Do you have Advent wreaths in your house?
What’s your favorite type of soup?
What simple comforts do you enjoy during this time of year?