Vegetarian Harissa-Spiked Creamy Parsnip Soup

Vegetarian Harissa-Spiked Creamy Parsnip Soup
Vegetarian Harissa-Spiked Creamy Parsnip Soup. Katie Workman /
  • Total: 40 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 35 mins
  • Yield: Serves 6 to 8

Parsnips are a root vegetable, related to both carrots and parsley.  They are shaped like carrots, sometimes much larger, and usually a bit wider at the base, with a creamy yellow-beige skin and interior. Parsnips can be used in the same ways as carrots, though their flavor is notably sweeter, especially when cooked.  You can also get baby parsnips, and if you are planning to use them raw, these are the best, as they won’t have the woody core that the larger parsnips often have.  If your kid is old enough to use a vegetable peeler, you can have them help in the kitchen by peeling the parsnips.
This soup is a nice change of pace from other pureed vegetable soups, but you could also make this with rutabagas, or a combination of both rutabagas and parsnips.  Harissa is a spicy sauce made from chili peppers, paprika, and olive oil and is used in North African and Middle Eastern cuisine.  It adds a great pop of flavor to all kinds of dishes; I always love finding new hot sauces and pastes to play around with.

 You can start with a teaspoon or two and work your way up if your family likes a milder hint of heat in their soups.  


  • 6 medium parsnips, peeled
  • 5 cups less-sodium vegetable, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ½ cup heavy cream or half and half
  • 1 tablespoon harissa, or to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Cut the parsnips into slices. Combine them with the broth in a pot, and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Cover the pot, lower the heat to medium-low, and simmer for about 30 minutes until the parsnips are very tender. Allow the vegetables and broth to cool slightly.

  3. Puree the parsnips and the broth left in the pot (there should be about 2 cups left) in a food processor or blender. If using a blender, make sure to blend them in batches to avoid spilling over. Add the cream and harissa and process again until smooth. Return to the pot and add the remaining 2 cups vegetable broth. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve warm.


    If you're really enjoying the heat and taste of harissa, try this Harissa-Spiked Parsnip Puree. Other spicy sauces that I've tried include the Korean fermented chili paste called gochujang, which I used in this Spicy Greens Salad with Gochujang Dressing. And probably the most well-known, I've found that a squirt of Sriracha sauce is great on almost anything. Try Sriracha Mayo, Carrot Fries with Sriracha Sauce, or Tortilla-Crusted Tilapia with Sriracha Sauce