Swiss Chard and Parsnip Soup Recipe

Soupe de Bettes et Panais

[Swiss Chard and Parsnip Soup]

… a.k.a. the smoothest soup to ever be born on my stove. Yes: after months of coveting and weighing and dreaming and stealthily searching eBay, I finally caved in and treated myself to my very first immersion blender. I am slowly taking in what that means — onions and herbs chopped in a pinch, banana milkshakes, velvety soups and most importantly, stiff egg whites without the forearm cramps — and I could just clap my hands in happy anticipation if you weren’t looking.

The first thing I used the new toy for was this soup (actually that’s not true, I first used it to turn a piece of stale bread into breadcrumbs but I figured that wasn’t quite post-worthy). These days, the inspiration for most of the soups I make comes from just walking to the produce stall, choosing two vegetables that look healthy and well-behaved, then celebrating their marriage hastily with a very small crowd (just two witnesses, onions and garlic) in my cast-iron chapel.

It’s very difficult to go wrong with the pairing of just two vegetables — particularly if they’re in season at the same time — and this soup was no exception: complementary flavors (“Green and slightly bitter”, said the chard. “Starchy and subtly sweet”, replied the parsnip.) and a unique textural understanding between the two, never-before witnessed in my kitchen until the magic blender entered it, with its shiny, immaculate cape and its faithful following of fancy little accessories.

Soupe de Bettes et Panais

– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– one onion, peeled and chopped
– 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
– one bunch swiss chard, rinsed, trimmed and chopped (bettes, blettes ou cardes in French)
– 3 medium parsnips, srubbed, peeled and sliced
– salt, freshly ground pepper
– 1/4 cup milk

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add in the onion, garlic and 2 tablespoons water. Cook for five minutes or until translucent. Add in the chard and parsnip, season generously with salt and pepper, and cook for five more minutes, until the vegetables start to color. Cover the vegetables with hot water (or homemade stock if you’re that kind of person), bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 25 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through and soft. Stir in the milk.

Whip out your handy-dandy immersion blender, your old-fashioned potato masher, or just a fork if that’s all you have but there’s a holiday gift idea for you right there, and whiz or mush the soup to the desired consistency or until you get bored. Add in a little more water or milk if the soup is too thick, reheat if the soup is too cold, and serve in pretty bowls, with a thick slice of fresh country bread or cripsy Italian breadsticks.

  • Swan

    The soup looks pretty enough, but we want to see your BLENDER!!!!

  • Meg

    Clotilde, that’s the same one I have and I cannot recommend it highly enough – I don’t know how I lived so many years without it!! And if ever you are inclined to make baby food, I can say that it’s fantastic, much better than any food processor I’ve seen and easier to clean than a blender. Just a note for the (far?) future…!

  • Now you know the magic too. I consider myself quite the “soupier” and before I got my imersion blender I did not know what I was missing. Once purchased, no more spilled soup when transferring to the other machines, no mess on the counter and easy clean up. Plus there is something really satisfying about chasing the last lumps with the immersion blender. Hee!

  • The only thing I don’t like the blender for is mashed potatoes. They come out rather gummy-not at all fluffy. But soup-such a great gimick then.

  • Deb

    I truly love my immersion blender! We use it all the time for making salsa to the exact consistency John finds acceptable. I’ve also used it in preparing homemade ice cream and prepping some chocolate fillings. Hope you have a happy holiday season!

  • My soup (leek and potato) is on the stoke as I write and my “whizzy stick” out of the cupboard and at the ready.
    Ideal for making hoummous too. How have you lived so long without one? I reckon I’m on my fourth one. I’ve had one since my eldest was a baby (never have my kids touched a jar of baby food she gloats!) and she’s 20 now!!

  • tiens, l’ail et le panais feront aussi partie de ma soupe du jour !
    c’est toujours un vrai plaisir de te lire. bises de Cologne.

  • Neil

    Clotilde, I have had one of the earlier Braun models it has been a helpful additon to my kitchen armory, but the one you purchased looks much improved. I’ll have to take a look at one.

    My cassoulet at “Encore” last evening was served to the table in min cocette with a ribbon in the French colors knotted around the handle. I can see where it would be a nice pot to have in the kitchen. Maybe next Christmas?

  • Is there any brand you want to recommend ? I am desperately looking for an immersion blender too.

  • kristian

    next time you are at the veggi stall looking for inspiration, there is no creamy winter time soup that garners such laudits at my table as a good pot of Carrot and ginger soup with a little bit of cinnamon whizzed up with the immersion blender……..with bisquits…..

  • Alisa

    so cute!!! love the witnesses!

  • may

    funny enough i have the same one! & i bought it in the name of making soup!!! it’s great for purees too and probably smoothies which i should also try soon… i’m not sure what i’ll do when i have to move to another country again… since the plugs and voltages may not always agree… sigh.

  • Wow, that soup looks amazing. Very exotic.

  • Swan

    that blender just works miracles.Great smoothies as well (a little orange juice, a banana, some frozen raspberries….voilá!)

  • I just got the same model for an early Xmas present, but I haven’t used it yet (a kind of appliance diffidence?). Maybe I’ll use your 2-vegetable method for inspiration.

  • Hi Clotilde,

    I was just looking for an immersion blender, but couldn’t decide between models. How lucky that I found your post and recommendation. I just ordered Braun professional model. Who says you can’t give yourself Christmas presents?


  • danielle

    In my house we eat soup in soup bowls or soup plates, not in glasses. It does not very home-friendly to serve soup in pretty glasses. Is that how you normally serve it at your house? I have only seen tiny glasses of soup in restaurants where they were amuse-bouche. But this is for normal eating, no?

  • Amanda

    Merci enormement et beaucoup de cette recette! It totally gave me much needed inspiration for dinner tonight. Tastes delicious, too.

    As for the post above, I see Clotilde’s comment about pretty bowls, not pretty glasses. Or was it something I missed? That said, serving soup in pretty glasses would be a fresh take on an old stand by. I’ve done it before for dinner parties and it worked wonderfully.


  • hi clotilde, delicious! you inspired me to make this and it was so so good. i changed the recipe just a bit – for some reason i can’t get into parsnips. who knows why… heres the link if you like
    thanks for all the great recipes, aria

  • Amazing! The soup looks so dense! I can’t believe that it is a soup =). Like a coctail.

  • The soup looks gorgeous… can’t wait to try it. I’ve asked for an immersion blender for Christmas! Thanks for all the wonderful recipes.

  • Thanks for the inspiration! I made soup out of carrots and bok choy that turned out great thanks to your two vegetable rule!

  • That does look delicious. I *love* my immersion blender, although I’ve named mine Vvjjjjjjjt. I do agree with Linda, don’t ever be tempted to try this for mashed potatoes!

  • berkeley girl

    Finally had a chance to try your soup. It was just perfect. I made the mistake of buying red rather than green Swiss chard, so the soup came out dirt brown rather than green. But it tasted great. The amount of water/vegetable broth needed is about 3-3 1/2 cups.

    -berkeley girl

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