Roasted parsnip soup with bacon and caramelized leeks

I am so into the toasty-crouton-on-soup thing right now. It’s the reason for soup, almost, to get crispy bread and buttery, melty goodness into my gaping maw. This soup is of typical creation myth: too lazy for a trip to the store, too much good shit going bad in the fridge (this time, leeks and a bag of baby parsnips) and cold weather. This one was delicious and even worthwhile in its own right. But it didn’t come without snags. Does anything good ever?

I got this soup started on Tuesday. Tuesday was a gym day, and I always try to eat something somewhat conscientious on gym days, so “a roasted vedge soup it would be”, I’d decided. We got home from the gym, and I rushed to the kitchen to peel an entire bag of baby parsnips (20 minutes), shallots (prolly only 5 minutes but I swear it feels like the lifetime of ten thousand kings) and a few cloves of garlic, and then washed and washed and washed the leeks after splitting them and chopping them into rough spears (another 15 minutes). It’s going on 7:30, and I’m just now getting this shit into the oven for its requisite 45 minutes of roasting.

GAH. Finally, the roasting is done. The house smells amazing. The leeks are crispy like they’ve been in a campfire, all ashy and shit. Not good. I try to simmer the whole thing in chicken stock and a little bacon, but it occurs to me that I’ll need to flesh this soup out a bit, but have nothing to add any body (not even motivation to go the store). It’s 8:35, and I almost start to cry with the realization that it’ll take another hour before this soup is really edible (let alone good).

I stick the soup, pot and all, into the fridge and we go to the trashy Italian-American restaurant around the corner for tortellini and pizza instead.

The next day, I pull the pot out. I’d gone to the store this time, for a little loaf of seeded baguette, a pint of cream and some more leeks. I pull out the bacon, and simmer the soup for an hour (it’s only 6:00 this time!). Clean the one of the new leeks, slice into a near-chiffonade and slow-sauté with a pinch of salt over low heat until completely creamy and melted. Add a splash of cream to the soup (maybe a couple) and whiz it smooth with the immersion blender. Add the leeks and the chopped bacon, a splash of red wine vinegar, some salt and white pepper.

I sliced the baguette thick on the bias, and toasted both sides in the buttery leek pan, then floated them in the bowls of soup, topped with shredded Pecorino and Madrigal (and some French-fried onions for shits and gigs), then put the tray of bowls under the broiler for a minute or two.

Serve with a brambly Côtes du Rhône and smug criticism of Top Chef contestants.