'A soup like this is not the work of one man. It is the result of a constantly refined tradition. There are nearly a thousand years of history in this soup.'
- Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop
Let me be the first to admit that there are not anywhere near a thousand years of history in this soup. Possibly there aren't even a thousand hours of history in it; this creamy parsnip & potato concoction enriched by the nutty, golden flavor of Roth Grand Cru Reserve Cheese (a new favorite ingredient) is one that seemed to come together almost as quickly as I dreamed it up. Now that December is here, I've been thinking a lot of soup thoughts, which to me are warming thoughts, comforting thoughts, gather-around-the-table thoughts. I've also been thinking a lot about connections recently, which is pretty typical for me in the winter months (something about darker days equals deeper introspection). That's another line of thought that's easy to trace, and one that’s probably got a lot to do with the birth of our first child--which, at 37 weeks of pregnancy is finally right around the corner now.
What sort of personal connections matter most, anyway? Oh boy. That's a question that is sure to be tested by new parenthood--the overwhelming tide of 'what do I do now?' and 'what are this little person's needs?' and 'why are there so few hours in the day?' that consumes all other priorities for a while in a kind of fog. In the coming weeks, friends will appear and disappear into this fog, I'm almost sure of it. Drawn by our shifting priorities and the constant changing of human seasons, we will find ourselves pulled together more closely (for love and support, for empathy, out of pure schadenfreude, who knows?) and drifting yet further apart (out of work commitments, travel, disinterest in the repeated daily minutiae of life with a new baby). There's a certain tendency to value only the strongest bonds of love and friendship, dismissing all other relationships (passing acquaintances, twice-a-year coffee friends, random hellos from internet strangers) as silly and shallow. At its core, my own personal village is composed of a few relationships that I hope never to lose; as for the rest, well...I understand. To everything there is a season, the fog will pass. You're all welcome at my table any day, no matter how long it's been--if it's cold outside, it's pretty likely I'm serving steaming bowls of this humble, wintry soup right here.
To all the passing acquaintances, twice-a-year coffee friends, and internet strangers offering random hellos...I seriously love you all! Nothing takes the place of the strength of a lifelong friendship, but even the smallest interaction is worthy of celebration. Does it seem silly that I celebrate every blog comment and Instagram 'like' as a small victory? I don't care. Little lifelines like these are the ones that keep us connected to most of humanity, the ones that remind us that there is a large world outside the tiny circle of our six or seven most cherished humans, that there are millions of others yearning to connect and be heard, even if only for a brief second. Reach out to me and say hi, and I will promise I will always try and return the favor! If I could, I'd send you a bowl of this soup directly from my kitchen.
Okay yes, this soup. Let's get into that for a second, shall we? There's literally almost nothing better on a chilly December day than a bowl of this simple soup. Combining the mild sweetness of parsnips with the starchy smoothness of a few potatoes, this velvety white soup comes together with the addition of grated cheese, blending together into something incredibly comforting (even to those pondering deep winter philosophical questions!). I'm still experimenting with cheeses from the good folks at Roth Cheese, and came up with this one specifically to highlight one of my favorites: Grand Cru Reserve, an Alpine-style aged cheese. The bold, savory notes of Grand Cru quiet down to a background melody in this recipe, while the texture is what really makes the soup special, giving it a silky feel that's both soothing and addictive. There may not be a thousand years of history in the making of this soup yet, but give it time--it's one I'm going to be making for many winters to come!
My thanks once again to Roth Cheese for sponsoring this post and providing me with such delicious materials to work with. All opinions, rambling and recipes provided in this post are 100% my own. Want to give this soup a try? Grab a coupon here good for $2.00 off any Roth Cheese. Find out more about Roth Cheese products (including where to get them, recipes and more) by clicking here!
Makes 4 generous servings
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped leeks (about one large leek)
2 cups peeled, 1" diced waxy new potato (about two large potatoes, use Yukon Gold, red-skinned or similar)
3 cups peeled, chopped parsnip (about three parsnips)
32 oz chicken stock
2 cups water
1 1/3 cups grated Grand Cru Reserve Cheese
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons salt
Black pepper, to taste
Chopped flat leaf parsley for garnish, optional
Heat butter in a large stock pot over medium, add leeks and cook until softened, stirring often (about 5 minutes). Add potatoes, parsnips, stock and water, bring mixture just to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until vegetables are tender. Using an immersion blender (or working in batches to process in a standing blender), puree soup until completely smooth.
Add grated cheese and milk, stir until cheese has completely melted. Taste soup, add salt & black pepper as desired. Ladle into bowls and garnish with a small amount of parsley. Stay warm, my friends!