Day 305: Hunger Moon Parsnip Soup ♥

Hunger Moon Parsnip Soup, another simple but delicous soup recipe ♥ A Veggie Venture
graphic button small size size 10 Today's simple-simple parsnip soup recipe: Just parsnips and leeks cooked in stock and puréed until silky and voluptuous. Easily made not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Naturally Gluten Free. Whole30 Friendly (without dairy). graphic button small size size 10

~recipe updated, first published way back in 2006~
~more recently updated recipes~

WAY BACK IN 2006 When publisher Chelsea Green asked to send a complimentary advance copy of Full Moon Feast, the coming-soon cookbook by Jessica Prentice, I accepted with the understanding that I might not write, cook from or even read it.

I've long been a seasonal cook: no tomatoes in February, no parsnips in August, no asparagus in November. But the book's lyrical story-telling describes a whole 'nother way of eating, of considering, of trusting, our food.

The book follows the thirteen lunar cycles. As luck would have it, Chapter 1 starts in February – that's now – with the hunger moon, the time when fall's harvest is falling thin, when only dusty root vegetables remain.

"In the deep of winter, when the Earth in the North has been covered with snow and ice for many moons already, comes the Hunger Moon. This late-winter lunar cycle was called the Hunger Moon by many peoples in various languages, but always for the same reason – the frozen land yielded little to eat, and game was scarce." ~ Jessica Prentice in Full Moon Feast

I am especially taken by the cookbook's side-bar lists, each with thirteen items, just as there are thirteen moons. There's Buried Treasure, vegetables from the old-fashioned root cellar, and Sweet Somethings, traditional and unrefined sources of sweetness. Be a Locavore, a list of plants that can be grown anywhere in the continental U.S. so can be eaten locally and in season with no importation, has me giving serious consideration to planting lettuce for the first time ever.

And that's just the first chapter.

Still to come are the Sap Moon, the Egg Moon, the Milk Moon, and more. But I shall wait to read them in their own time, in moon time, that is.

This is a simple soup, just simple goodness, unadorned and without complexity. It is simply, utterly, delicious. Jessica's version adds milk or cream so easily adapts to a "cream of parsnip soup".

UPDATE Back in 2006, publishers were juuuuuuust beginning to realize the influence of the budding community of food bloggers. Now? Whoa. It's big business. What hasn't changed? The lovely simplicity of this basic parsnip soup. We love this soup!

graphic button small size size 10 "Yum! So velvety and sweet!" ~ Kirsten


Adapted from Full Moon Feast by Jessica Prentice
Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 45 minutes
Makes 4 cups (without milk or cream) or 5 cups (with milk or cream)

4 cups vegetable or chicken stock, heated to a boil in the microwave

1 tablespoon unsalted butter or olive oil
3 medium leeks, light-green and white parts only, cut in half rings
1 pound parsnips, peeled and chopped

1 cup whole milk or half 'n' half, optional
Salt and pepper to taste, may not be needed

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, melt the butter on MEDIUM. Add the leeks and cook until just beginning to turn golden. Add the parsnips and stir to coat with fat. Let cook for about 5 minutes. Add the bay leaf and hot stock. Bring to a boil and let simmer until parsnips are fully cooked, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a blender (in batches if needed, fill the blender no more than half full and even so, hold on tight to the lid while processing, so the pressure of the heat doesn't blow the hot liquid all over) and process until smooth and return to the pot; alternatively, use an immersion blender to purée the soup right in the pot. If using, stir in the milk or cream. Bring back to temperature, season to taste and serve.

SERVING SUGGESTION Aesthetically, Hunger Moon Parsnip Soup cries out for a garnish! For the updated photo, I used a take-off on the topping for this wonderful casserole, Afghan Chicken & Rice Casserole (Kabeli Palau), a quick saute of julienned carrot, almonds and currants. (I know, weird right. But so good there and frankly, so perfect here, too. For lunch that day, I topped the soup with spoonsful of cooked quinoa and cottage cheese, then the warm carrot-almond-currant mixture. Delicious!

HOT STOCK Heating the stock is an optional step but one I nearly always follow with soup because it speeds the overall cooking time.
NO FRESH LEEKS? No problem. Leeks add this gentle onion-y-ness to soups, also a silky texture. They're wonderful! For soups that will be puréed, I'm very happy with quality and convenience of frozen leeks from Trader Joe's. Use 6 to 8 ounces to substitute for three fresh leeks.
WOODY CENTERS Lots of recipes suggest removing the woody cores of parsnips. For this soup, I left them in – they cooked and puréed just fine!
VOLUME Four or five cups isn't a lot of soup. I recommend a double or triple batch! I think it would freeze well, just freeze it without milk or cream.
TASTING NOTES Without cream, Hunger Moon Parsnip Soup is parsnip-sweet, some will enjoy this, I sure do! But to turn a slightly more savory direction, however, balance the sweetness with richness, with the addition of whole milk, half 'n' half or even cream. Would coconut milk be good? I think so!
SEASONING TO TASTE The chefs I work with nearly all instinctively start seasoning early, right in the pan and then throughout the cooking process. Taste varies, of course, that's why we say "season to taste" but to my taste, anyway, with the No-Big-Deal Homemade Chicken Stock that's my go-to soup liquid, this soup needs no seasoning at all, neither in the beginning nor at the end.
Note to Vegetarians

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. This book sounds incredible! And what a lovely recipe!

  2. I've read the book and love it. It is on my "to reread" shelf.

  3. This soup was AMAZING! I'm so glad I got parsnips in the CSA share, but embarrassed to say that they were about 5 weeks hanging out in the crisper. I hadn't forgotten about them, I'd just been waiting to remember seeing this soup.

    I strayed from the recipe, though. Since today was a Snow Day (really an Ice Day!) I was in no rush. I'd roasted a chicken earlier in the week, so after I stripped most of the meat (for yet another meal) off the carcass I tossed the bones into the pot with the partially cooked leeks and parsnips. Then I added broth, covered it, and forgot about it for a while. After I pulled out the carcass, I pureed the soup then added back in meat I'd picked off the cooled bones.

    Yum! So velvety and sweet! This made a delicious Snow Day supper-the kids both enjoyed it as well. Thanks again for another terrific recipe!


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