Here in the Southern California desert, despite preconceptions to the contrary, we do have something that resembles a season. Sure, it’s still sunny every day but, come fall, the days are a little crisper, a little windier, and soup does feel right, right about now.
This root vegetable soup is rich and creamy, and in my bowl as I write. Unlike some pureed soups, this one isn’t just about dairy. It’s more complex than that! Incredibly bright, with a tickle of spicy and sweet.
A few root vegetables—celery root, parsnip, onion, garlic—are cooked until impossibly tender, then blitzed until sleek. If you’ve never worked with celery root, it’s really easy—a little more work than peeling a potato, but with a sweeter, more interesting taste. And if you’ve never prepared parsnips, just think of them as white carrots. These seasonal ingredients make a thick puree once blended. You can thin it out with more vegetable stock or water; just remember to season with salt to taste.
You’ll add back texture in the topping: poblano pepper and more parsnip simmered in olive oil, with crunchy pomegranate seeds and lime. This garnish is really half of the soup’s identity, like stark rocks and surreal cacti meeting barren, smooth, sandy valleys. Super suave, a little rugged. Don’t be stingy when adding this to your bowl. —Christian Reynoso
(about 5 medium) celery roots, peeled
1 1/2 pounds
(about 5 medium) parsnips, peeled
(1 stick) unsalted butter
(1 large) yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
garlic cloves, peeled and grated or minced
sea salt, plus more to taste
extra-virgin olive oil
medium poblano pepper, stemmed, halved, and seeded
Cut the celery root bulbs into 1/2-inch chunks. Cut the thinner parsnip ends into 1/4-inch discs and set aside (about 1/4 cup total). Cut the larger ends into 1/2-inch chunks (about the same size as the celery root).
In a heavy-bottomed stock pot over high heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and garlic and cook until garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the vegetable stock, cream, and sea salt. Bring that liquid to a bustling simmer, then turn down the heat to low and add the celery root and parsnip chunks (not discs—we're using those later). Make sure the vegetables are just submerged and cover your pot with a lid (or parchment paper that’s flush with the surface of the liquid). Simmer, stirring occasionally, until each vegetable is fork tender, 35 to 40 minutes.
While the soup is simmering, make the topping. Add the olive oil to a small pot over low heat. While the oil is heating, cut the poblano pepper into 1/4-inch pieces. Add these to the oil, along with the reserved parsnip discs and a couple pinches of salt. Simmer, stirring often, until the parsnip and pepper pieces are tender but not mushy, about 8 to 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the pomegranate seeds, lime juice, lime zest, and black pepper.
Puree the soup in a countertop blender in batches, or use an immersion blender directly in the pot. Add water (or more vegetable stock, if you have it) until you have a thin but velvety consistency. Season with salt to taste. Serve warm with a very generous amount of the poblano-pomegranate garnish spooned on top.