Farmer’s Market Parsnip & Leek Soup

From Chris Zimmerman

Chris and I talked about recipes in the morning at the market last Saturday.  A couple hours later he made my day by showing up with this soup:

2 Tbs. olive oil
3 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts only (from 2 to 3 large leeks), rinsed and drained
1 tsp. coarse salt; more to taste
1 lb. parsnips, peeled, quartered, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup dry fino sherry like Lustau Fino or Manzanilla
6 cups chicken broth
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 small bay leaves, broken in half
1/2 tsp. peppercorns, lightly crushed
pinch fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 cup half & half (optional)

Heat the 2 Tbs. oil in a wide soup pot over medium heat. Add the leeks, season lightly with salt, and cook gently until the leeks have softened and begin to turn golden, 8 to 10 min. Add the parsnips and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the parsnips are fragrant, about 2 min. Add the fino sherry, increase the heat to medium high, and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the broth. Tie the thyme sprigs, bay leaves, and peppercorns together in a cheesecloth and toss it into the pot. Partially cover the pot, bring to a boil, immediately lower the heat, and simmer partially covered until the parsnips are soft enough to mash against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat and let cool for about 5 min. Discard the herbs. Using a food processor or hand blender, purée the soup, taste, and adjust the salt & pepper, grate a touch of nutmeg. If you’re using the half & half, add it now (if you’re making the soup ahead, wait to add the half & half until you reheat the soup just before serving).

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