Parsnips are one of those vegetable that you tend to forget about. They look a bit like carrots that have been out of the sunlight too long—hiding indoors all winter long, stark and pale and haggard around the edges. But their flavor is wonderfully unique, and when you taste it, it begs the question “mmmm what is this?” and that’s the spicy and sweet magic of the parsnip. Even though it looks a bit plain, it packs a real punch in the flavor department. If you eat them raw, they’ve got a spicy heat to them that’s kind of similar to horseradish, but much more mild. But when you roast them, all the delicious sugars tucked away inside the root caramelize, and it becomes an incredible medley of sweet and savory flavors. And in the last thralls of winter, when you’re ready for a splash of brightness and flavor but still need something warm and comforting, a roasted parsnip soup hits the sweet spot.

Roasted Parsnip Soup

And because I’m obsessed with all things both salty and sweet, I caramelized some leeks and pureed them into the soup with the roasted parsnips, and sprinkled some on top as well for texture. Leeks have much less moisture than onions, so they caramelize much quicker in the pan. But be careful! That also means it’s easier to burn them if you’re not paying attention since they dry out faster. And for a slight bit of crunch and a wonderfully toasted flavor, there’s some roasted hazelnuts sprinkled on top. The tired cook might say “meh, I don’t really need those” and cut them from the grocery list, but let me insist, dear reader, that you do in fact need them. They are SUCH a good complement to the roasted parsnip soup, and if you get tired of the same texture easily like I do, they add a really nice crunch to an otherwise super smooth soup. And they’re super easy to make (less than 10 minutes to toast them, I promise!) Live a little and go for it, I say.

Roasted Parsnip Soup

On a personal note, I’ve been eating really, really well for the past few months, both in terms of healthy foods and tasty ones, to gear up for our last round of IVF. I’m currently on day 8 and we’re looking to have the egg retrieval done late next week, so please send positive thoughts, vibes, prayers, and/or energies if you can spare them. We did 2 failed IVF rounds in 2022 and 1 failed IVF round last year, and after a much-needed break, we’ve rallied, and are giving it our all for this last attempt. It’s strange toeing the line between optimism and reservation, I want to be hopeful, but I also worry that by being hopeful I’ll just jinx everything somehow. The human mind is a strange place. But it is also wonderfully, painfully resilient. And I’m grateful to still be able to try one more time, since many folks in my position can’t afford IVF since it’s not covered by insurance in Oregon or Washington or 27 other states, unfortunately. So I’m focusing on the good, staying cautiously positive, and fueling my body and spirit with nourishing meals like this one. Here’s to a fruitful late winter, friends!

5 from 1 vote

Roasted Parsnip Soup with Caramelized Leeks

Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 8 cups of soup


Roasted Parsnip Soup with Caramelized Leeks

  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds parsnips peeled and cut into roughly 1-inch chunks
  • 1 yellow onion cut into sixths
  • 5 cloves garlic peeled
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds leeks
  • 1 cup cashews soaked in water overnight or at least 4 hours
  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup full fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon honey


  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts cut in half
  • 4 green onions very thinly sliced
  • Remaining half of caramelized leeks
  • Toasted sesame oil optional
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


Roasted Parsnip Soup with Caramelized Leeks

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, mix together the paprika, turmeric, garlic power, oregano, black pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt until combined. In a large bowl, toss together the parsnips, onion, and garlic with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Sprinkle half of the spice mixture over the bowl and toss to coat. Set the remaining half of the spice mixture aside for later.

  2. Empty the veggies out onto a lipped baking sheet and roast in the oven until the parsnips are fork-tender, about 35-40 minutes.
  3. While they’re roasting, you can prepare the leeks. Cut the top ¼ of the green stem off the leeks and compost or discard it. Cut the leeks in half lengthwise, peel back the few most external layers of the leek and rinse out any dirt. Then cut them into into ¼-inch thick half moon slices.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add the sliced leeks and 1/2 teaspoon salt and stir to coat in hot oil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring every couple minutes (leeks will dry out and burn faster than onions since they have less moisture, so they need to be stirred more often). Reduce heat to low and cook until golden and faintly sweet-smelling, about 15 minutes more, stirring every 3 minutes or so. Remove from heat and set aside.

  5. Drain the cashews and place them in a blender along with 1 cup of the vegetable stock. Blend until silky smooth. Add the roast veggies, **half** of the caramelized leeks, the remaining half of the spice mixture, and the remaining vegetable stock. Blend at medium speed until combined, then add the white wine and honey blend at high speed until silky smooth.

  6. Empty into a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a low boil over medium heat, covering with a lid partially to keep it from splattering. Cook for another 10 minutes or until heated through, stirring every few minutes. Remove from heat, wait for the boiling to stop, and stir in the Greek yogurt. Add salt to taste and serve with toppings as directed below. Will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Will also freeze well.

Roast Hazelnut Toppings + Serving

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the hazelnuts out on a baking sheet and place them in the oven. Roast until lightly golden and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Dump onto a cotton or linen kitchen towel and bundle them up. Gently rub the nuts through the towel for 30 seconds or so. Open the towel and the skins should have rubbed right off the nuts. Place the nuts in a small bowl and lightly toss with a small drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt and set aside.

  2. Dish up the soup into bowls, and top each bowl with a few toasted hazelnuts, some sliced green onions, a generous spoonful of caramelized leeks, a drizzle of toasted sesame oil, a pinch of thyme leaves, and a bit of black pepper. Enjoy!

Cozy Winter SoupCreamy Winter Soup Roasted Parsnip SoupCreamy Winter Soup

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