I have come to enjoy more and more eating things as they come into season. It starts each spring with parsnip chowder. I couldn’t live on a steady diet of it, but that first taste on a cold spring afternoon is one of life’s great comfort foods. It is soooo sweet and is such a silky broth. The magical thing about spring parsnips is that they need no other flavorings. They carry hints of mace, cinnamon, celery seed and clove.
My parsnips were neither as big nor as difficult to harvest as they have been in past years., I pulled up one two years ago that I think had a taproot in the aquifer. It was the size of a sperm whale. Such parsnips can get pretty woody at the core, but there is still plenty of sweet flavor around the edges.
Spring-Dug Parsnip Chowder
3 slices bacon
2 Tbsp butter
1 large onion cut into ¾ inch dice
1 pound parsnips peeled and sliced into rounds
1 pound Yukon Gold, Maine PEI or other all purpose potato peeled and cut into ¾ inch dice
3cups chicken broth
1 ½ cups heavy cream ( I use skim milk)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1. In a 4 quart heavy pot over low heat cook the bacon. Leave the fat in the pot and reserve the cooked bacon until later.
2. Over medium heat add butter and onions and sauté until onions is tender but not browned 6-8 minutes.
3. Add parsnips and potatoes and stir. Then add the broth and turn the heat up to a boil and cook vigorously for 12 minutes. Reduce heat to low
4. Remove 2 cups of the chowder from the pot and puree in food processor or blender, and return to the pot. Let the chowder simmer slowly for another 5 minutes; the broth should look silky-smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream. Let the chowder sit for an hour to meld the flavors. Season with salt and paper to taste.
5. When ready to serve reheat over low heat; don’t allow it to boil. Warm the crumbled bacon in a 200 degree oven for a few minutes.
6. Ladle the chowder into cups and scatter the bacon over the individual servings. Sprinkle with a little chopped parsley
from 50 Chowders by Jasper White