Inspiration arises from the weirdest places, doesn’t it? My friend Alex once made me watch the movie Tangled, a retelling of Rapunzel for kids that I would never have watched if left to my own devices, but which left two impressions on me nevertheless. First, the movie seemed to borrow heavily from Sondheim’s Into the Woods, a musical I know well because I was cast in a production of it in high school, which made me a little nostalgic.
More relevantly, though, the movie had a couple of lines that I think were intended just to be throwaways but that I found very interesting; the mom-witch comes home from her errands to the turret in which she has imprisoned her princess-daughter and excitedly exclaims, “I’ve got the parnsips! I’m making hazelnut sooo-oup!”
I was mildly stunned by what a good idea parsnip-hazelnut soup was and set about to make some for myself. These two ingredients have such gutsy flavors that they don’t need to bring many other friends to have a great party, but it occurred to me late in the game that a peeled, chopped apple would be a good addition (add with the parsnips if you try it and let me know how it is). I’ll just have the leftovers with an apple on the side tomorrow! How very evil-witchy.
- 1 cup raw hazelnuts, soaked overnight
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium white or yellow onion, roughly diced
- 8 medium parsnips, roughly chopped
- 4 quarts water, vegetable stock, white wine, or a combination thereof
- 2 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp agave
- 1 tsp salt, or to taste
- 1/2 freshly grated nutmeg, or 1 tsp ground
- Freshly ground pepper
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, cover, and sauté until translucent, 5-1o minutes.
- Add the parsnips and a pinch of salt, and, without changing the heat level, add the parsnips. Cover and sauté for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Pour in the water/ stock and turn up the heat to high. Bring to a boil, then turn back down and simmer 15-20 minutes, or until the parsnips are soft.
- Drain the hazelnuts and add them to the soup.
- In batches, transfer to a blender and purée until smooth. Pour each blenderful into a separate bowl while you finish puréeing the rest of the soup, then pour back into the pot to heat up.
- Grate in the nutmeg, then stir in the vinegar and agave. Taste and correct the seasoning.
- Ladle into bowls and garnish with more nutmeg or some herb leaves.
Have you ever gotten an idea for a new recipe from an unexpected source? Pray tell!