Roasted Leek and Parsnip Soup with Smoky Seed Clusters

Flavorful pepita seed clusters add texture to this soup recipe with parsnips, leeks, and potatoes.

Winter 2016-2017

  • The smoky, spicy soup toppers add texture and nutrition to this creamy soup. They combine raw sunflower seeds and pepitas, which you'll toast lightly on the stovetop. Pepitas, common in Latin American dishes, are pumpkin seeds (or seeds from other squash) with the hulls removed. Sometimes they're sold with the hulls intact and, often, roasted and salted. They're medium-dark green and nutrient-dense.
    Photo by Andrea Bemis

Total Hands-On Time: 1 hr

Preparation Time: 10 min

Cook Time: 50 min

Yield: 4-6 servings

This soup will give you nourishment and comfort on the darkest of winter days. The thick and creamy soup gets some spicy flair from the smoky seed clusters. If you prefer a thinner soup, just add more water. Pair your warm leek and parsnip soup with a glass of red wine for a cozy night in.


• 1 pound parsnips, scrubbed and chopped into 1-inch pieces
• 1 large russet potato, scrubbed and chopped into 1-inch pieces
• 1 small yellow onion, chopped into 1-inch pieces
• 1 small leek, chopped into 1-inch pieces (Use white and light green parts only.)
• 4 cloves garlic
• 3 tablespoon olive oil
• 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
• Black pepper, freshly cracked
• Parsley, minced, for serving

Smoky Seed Clusters

• 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
• 1/4 cup pepitas
• 1-1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 2 tablespoons pure cane sugar


1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Toss the parsnips, potato, onion, leek, and garlic in a bowl with the olive oil, nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste.

3. Spread the vegetables out onto a baking sheet, arranging them in a single layer, and roast for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until tender and lightly browned.

4. Transfer half of the vegetables to a high-speed blender, along with 1 cup water.

5. Purée until completely smooth.

6. Transfer the puréed soup to a soup pot and purée the rest of the vegetables with 1 more cup of water until smooth. Add purée to the soup pot.

7. Stir in 1 more cup of water and keep on low heat.

8. After soup is warmed through, taste for seasonings and add more liquid, if desired.

9. To make the smoky seed topping, toast the sunflower seeds and pepitas in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan often, until the seeds are golden brown, about 3 minutes.

10. Pour the seeds out onto a plate and toss with the paprika, cayenne, and salt.

11. Place the pan that previously toasted the seeds back on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the sugar, and after the sugar has liquefied (this won’t take long!), add the seeds, tossing to coat them in the melted sugar. Do this quickly, as you don’t want the sugar to burn.

12. Remove from the heat and transfer the seeds to a plate to cool. After they’re cool enough to handle, break the seeds apart into small clusters. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a few tablespoons of the seed clusters and minced parsley.

Follow these links for more recipes with parsnips and to learn more about growing and cooking with parsnips and pears.

Spiced Pear Compote Recipe
Parsnip and Pear Muffins with Rosemary
Winter Gathering: Parsnips and Pears

Subscribe today

Heirloom GardenerCultivate your love of historic plant varieties and traditional recipes with a subscription to Heirloom Gardener magazine today!

Don’t miss a single issue of Heirloom Gardener. Published by the editors of MOTHER EARTH NEWS, Heirloom Gardener provides decades of organic gardening experience from the most trusted voices in the field. Subscribe today and save as much as 38% off the newsstand price! Get one year (4 issues) for only $24.95!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube

click me