Photo: Danny Kim. Illustrations by John Burgoyne.

Parsnips, those pigment-challenged relatives of the carrot, thrive in chilly climes. In fact, these sweet and spicy root vegetables don’t fully develop their flavor until they’ve been exposed to near-freezing temperatures for weeks at a time. At their peak now through March, parsnips shine when cooked in hearty winter soups like this one from Riverpark chef Sisha Ortúzar.

Sisha Ortúzar’s Parsnip Soup with Brussels Sprout–Apple Hash

For the purée:
1 lb. parsnips
1 tbs. unsalted butter
2 large shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
3 to 4 c. vegetable stock
1 sprig of thyme, plus extra leaves to garnish
1 small bay leaf
Salt and pepper

For the Brussels sprout–apple hash:
4 oz. slab bacon, cut into lardons
1 small apple (Fuji or another sweet and crisp variety), peeled and diced
6 large Brussels sprouts, cored with leaves separated
1/4 tsp. caraway seeds
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

(1) Peel parsnips, trim ends, and cut into thin slices. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Once butter begins to bubble, add shallots and sweat until translucent, approximately 2 minutes. (2) Add parsnips and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, then cover with enough vegetable stock that the parsnips float. Add the sprig of thyme and bay leaf, season with salt and pepper, and simmer until fork-tender. Remove thyme and bay leaf, and reserve about half the cooking liquid. (3) Using a blender or immersion blender, purée the parsnips until smooth, adding cooking liquid as needed. In a separate pan, cook the bacon over low heat, raising the heat to medium as fat begins to render. Once the fat has rendered, add the apple and sauté until it begins to color. Add the Brussels-sprout leaves and caraway seeds, and season with black pepper, maintaining heat until the leaves are just wilted. Drain off the bacon fat, then add cider vinegar to deglaze the pan while tossing the hash. To serve, ladle soup into 4 bowls, topping with the hash and a few thyme leaves. Serves 4.