I love this time of year, when it feels like everything is still liminal and in-between seasons. When it careens between sunny skies and hailstorms and even the weather seems to hint that we’re-not-quite-there-yet, but that there’s something good just around the corner. A little hint of the potential that’s yet to come as the middle of the year begins to unfurl ahead of us.
I get the same feeling when it comes to food, too. It’s not really salad weather, but I’m not ready to say goodbye to comfort food, either. And so I find myself trying to fuse two sides: the part of me ready for lighter vegetables and the other that still hankers after something starchy and somehow soothing.
When it comes to seasonal produce here, what I’ve got to hand at home reflects both of those sides. Right now the last few parsnips are lingering in the market and early little summer squashes are just beginning to pop up, crossing the seasons in a way that matches my mood (and tummy’s cravings) perfectly. As such, this Gingered Summer Squash & Parsnip Bisque was a happy accident in my weekend kitchen.
Each weekend, I make a big batch of vegetable based soup as a base for the week ahead’s breakfasts: you can read more about my breakfast soup method here. That serves two purposes: it means I only have to reheat soup in the mornings instead of cooking (unless I feel like it) and also clears out whatever vegetables I’ve got leftover at the end of the week so that my fridge is emptied before I go grocery shopping again.
So with a bounty of summer squash and some sleepy winter’s end parsnips, I ended up making a silky smooth soup with no particular plan or expectations in mind. The resultant soup had a lovely earthy sweetness thanks to the parsnips, almost reminiscent of corn chowder to me. The second time I made it, I decided to throw in a little coconut milk towards the end to amplify the natural creaminess and give a bisque-like mouthfeel. I also wanted to balance some of the sweetness with a little heat by adding some ground ginger.
Now, I like myself a little heat and personally find that ground ginger gives a better kick in that respect over a longer cooking time than fresh ginger. You can tailor the gingery-complement to your taste by reducing or increasing the amount used, which is why I didn’t give an exact measurement in the recipe below: it’s kind of a “choose your own food adventure” deal.
If you love a bit of bite and are missing spicy things on the AIP, I’d suggest substituting the ground ginger with ground galangal, if you can get your mitts on some of the stuff! Ground galangal has the heat of ginger, but with the addition of a flavor that’s almost peppery, which kicks flavors up a notch, especially if you’re following the AIP elimination phase, which doesn’t allow for black pepper.
For ease and safety – because transferring hot soup back and forth between blender and stovetop sucks – I usually use an immersion blender to whiz up this Summer Squash & Parsnip Bisque. It takes a little patience, which is why I do it in stages, but it does come together nicely. Bonus points if you can get your immersion blender to reach the stovetop: then you don’t even need to remove your pan from the heat!
You can actually serve this parsnip bisque hot or chilled, depending on the weather and your mood. If I’m going to serve it chilled, I’ll cool and refrigerate it, then transfer it to a high powered blender (in two batches) and blitz it on high to get it super smooth. It will thicken when chilled, so you may want to add a little extra broth to thin it to your preferred consistency.
Switch things up
If you prefer your soups more on the sweet-and-savory side, adding a little apple to the soup base would be a lovely touch that would stand beautifully against the creamy texture. You could also add a splash of fresh lemon juice towards the end of cooking for a nice bit of acidity that would lighten things up a bit. If you want to emphasize the earthiness of the parsnips and brighten up the color, try adding a little ground turmeric. Whichever way you choose to go, you won’t be disappointed!
Break out the garnishes
Drizzle with lemon infused olive oil and micro greens.
Scatter with chopped green onions or chives and a little toasted unsweetened coconut.
Make it a main
Add a little flaked canned salmon or shrimp for a speedy weeknight meal.
Enjoy a cup of this bisque along with a bowl of this Warm Chicken “Grain” Salad.
This recipe was included in the AIP Recipe Roundtable over at Phoenix Helix!
- PREP: Choose a saucepan or dutch oven large enough to fit all the ingredients. I usually make a double batch of this in my 6.5 qt dutch oven, so you'll want something close to about a 4 qt saucepan here. Pop your pan onto the stovetop, pour in the chicken broth and set it to a medium high heat while you prep your vegetables. Don't bother peeling the summer squash, just cut off and discard the ends, then slice them into about ¼ inch / 6 mm thick pieces (it's easiest if you cut them lengthwise first, to stop them rolling around on the chopping board). Peel the parsnips, then chop them the same way. Peel and chop the onion into half moon slices, then smash and peel the garlic cloves.
- SIMMER: Add all the vegetables to the chicken broth, then add the ginger (see notes) and salt, too. Bring the pan to an even simmer, then lower the heat a little and cook until the parsnips are fork tender, about 30 minutes.
- BLEND: Use an immersion blender to puree the soup to an almost smooth consistency right in the pan. You might need to transfer the pan off the heat to do this, but if you don't, the easiest thing to do is just whiz the soup with the blender right on the stovetop! Add the coconut milk to the pan and blend again until smooth. Taste and add any extra ginger or salt, as needed. Simmer the bisque for another 10 minutes to warm through once again before serving.
- SERVE: You can serve this bisque hot or chilled. If I'm going to serve it chilled, I'll cool and refrigerate it, then transfer it to a high powered blender (in two batches) and blitz it on high to get it super smooth. It will thicken when chilled, so you may want to add a little extra broth to thin it to your preferred consistency.
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