Anne Yarymowich, executive chef of Frank Restaurant, at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, combines slow-simmered parsnips with ripe pears in this gently nutty and velvety winter soup. Sour golden raisin gastrique adds a nice contrast.
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1 pound Vidalia or other sweet onions (1 large or 2 small), peeled and thinly sliced into strips
4 tablespoons organic pumpkin seed or sunflower seed oil, or butter
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Pinch ground white pepper
Pinch ground ginger
3 pounds parsnips, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
2 pounds Bartlett or bosc pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
3 litres cold water
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Salt to taste
Sweet and Sour Golden Raisin Gastrique
½ cup white sugar
½ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon kosher salt
In a large soup pot, heat oil or butter over medium-low heat, add sliced onions, salt, pepper and ginger, and sweat onions gently until soft and transparent.
Add chopped parsnips and pears and continue to sweat gently over medium-low heat until parsnips and pears have started to soften. You can add butter and oil at this point if you want a richer, creamier soup. Stir frequently to prevent browning.
Add the water and increase heat, stirring occasionally until the liquid reaches a boil. Immediately reduce heat, cover and simmer until parsnips are very tender (about 20 to 30 minutes).
Remove from heat and puree in a blender (do not fill blender more than halfway, cover with a dry tea towel, hold down lid and start at low speed), food processor or with an immersion stick blender.
For the best texture, pass the puree through a fine sieve.
Return to a clean pot, adjust thickness as desired with water. Heat to the boiling point, add cider vinegar, and season to taste with kosher or sea salt.
For the topping, heat sugar and vinegar over medium heat in a small pot until sugar is melted and liquid is beginning to simmer gently. Add raisins, ginger and salt. Simmer for 5 to 8 minutes, until raisins are plump and soft. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
Drizzle a tablespoon into hot soup and serve immediately. Keeps well in the fridge, in a sealed jar, up to 3 weeks.