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Oft-ignored parsnip has many favourable features

This week's recipes include parsnip soup and parsnip spice cake
From the Kitchen by Joyce Walter

There’s a vegetable, possibly still in the garden that is too often ignored.

The parsnip isn’t nearly as popular as other root vegetables such as carrots, beets or turnips but they should not be overlooked at the farmers’ markets or produce departments. 

A Canadian farm produce association indicates parsnips are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals, rich in anti-oxidants, and have anti-cancer and anti-fungal properties. They are high in fibre and low in calories and may be prepared in a variety of methods.

Parsnips, a relative of the carrot, are native to Europe and Asia and were introduced to North America in the 17th century.

This week’s recipes feature the parsnips and come from reliable parsnip sources.

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Parsnip Soup

2 lbs. parsnips, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 golden beets, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (do not use red beets)
2 tbsps. olive oil
1 onion, diced
2-3 stalks celery, diced
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk
1/2 cup whipping cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Coat the parsnips, carrots and beets with 1 tbsp. olive oil, season with salt and pepper then spread onto a baking sheet.

Roast until vegetables are tender and are a golden brown, 20-30 minutes.

Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large saucepan. Stir in onion and celery. Cook about 10 minutes to soften vegetables. 

Reduce heat to low and add butter, brown sugar and roasted vegetables. Cook and stir until all vegetables are very tender, about 15-20 minutes.

Add seasonings and chicken broth and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, partially cover saucepan and simmer another 15 minutes.

Puree in batches in a blender until smooth. Pour into a large saucepan. Stir in milk and cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 10-15 minutes before serving. Garnish with parsley, if desired.

• • •

Parsnip Spice Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp. ground ginger
2 tsps. baking powder
1 1/2 tsps. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. each of nutmeg, allspice and cloves
3 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 tsps. vanilla extract
2 cups shredded parsnips, packed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 13x9 cake pan.

Combine flour, sugar, ginger, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves and whisk.

Whisk eggs, oil, milk and vanilla to combine. Pour egg mixture over dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Stir in parsnips. 

Pour into prepared pan. Bake about 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on rack.

Frost with a cream cheese icing or other favourite topping.

Joyce Walter can be reached at