Creamy Parsnip and Carrot Puree

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Over the past few months, I've grown more and more fond of parsnip as a side dish mainstay. Though on the grocery store shelves it looks like carrot's pale, wimpy twin, the flavor is surprisingly good and addictive. Parsnip is sweet, like carrot, but with rich floral and herbal undertones that pair beautifully with a number of meat dishes.

Parsnips are lovely roasted or added to any variety of soups and stews, but my favorite is this puree, which was born of necessity when I noticed a fading pile of root vegetables in my refrigerator. Equal parts carrots and parsnips (you can also add in potatoes, turnips, yams, or celery root if that's what you prefer or have on hand) are simmered in a combination of milk and chicken broth until fork-tender, then pureed with butter and more broth until smooth, and golden yellow. The result is a creamy puree, flavorful enough to make mashed potatoes jealous.

I make a bowl of this early in the week and keep it in the fridge as an instant side dish, ready to accompany herb-roasted chicken, heady beef stew, or whatever else I'm making that day.  The sunny yellow color also does wonders to brighten up a dish (particularly helpful with the main course is something like muddy soup or braised ribs).

Want another idea? This same recipe, thinned with the entire amount of broth and perhaps a bit more, essentially becomes a creamy soup.

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Creamy Parsnip and Carrot Puree

Ingredients
3-4 large parsnips, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
3-4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups whole milk
1/2 bunch fresh thyme, tied with a string or in a cheesecloth pouch
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
Kosher salt and black pepper

Directions
Combine parsnips, carrots, chicken broth, thyme, and garlic in a large pot. Place over medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer, covering with the pot lid angled so that it allows steam to release. Let simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the carrots and parsnips are completely and equally tender.

Fish out the bundle of thyme and discard. Use a slotted spoon to remove the vegetables from the pot, reserving the cooking liquid (don't worry if the milk has separated a bit--it will all puree smoothly).

Add the cooked vegetables (including garlic) and the 1/2 cup of butter to the base of your food processor, and puree until smooth, adding the cooking broth 1/2 cup at a time until it reaches a desired consistency (about 2 cups total).

Season with kosher salt and black pepper to taste.

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