I’m still trying to figure out why I joined Facebook. After all, I already know who my real friends are, and I can still remember what they look like. I have an address book, which is very out-of-date, and, therefore, gives me a good excuse for why I suck at keeping in touch with people. Having easier access to my friends seems like a rather large tactical error.
But when Facebook asked if I wanted to know what vegetable I would be (if all of one’s human complexities could be reduced to a mere vegetable), I literally couldn’t wait to find out. Being practically geriatric as compared to the average Facebook user, this was the equivalent of me sliding my walker slowly over to the rotary phone, hoping my Depends wouldn’t be around my ankles by the time I got the operator on the line.
The answer? Parsnip.
I’m not sure what vegetable I expected to be. An artichoke, maybe? But, it certainly wasn’t a parsnip. Now, I’m trying to figure out exactly what it is I have in common with a parsnip besides being very, very white. The other thing, and this is where I really take offense, is that most people wouldn’t touch a parsnip with a 10-foot pole. Are you trying to tell me something, Facebook?
Anyway, I actually do like parsnips. Really, once you get to know them, they’re not so bad. I like this soup because the parsnip flavor really comes through despite there being all kinds of other distracting stuff in there. Like kielbasa!!! I might even be so bold as to say you could leave out the kielbasa entirely. But that might make it seem like I’ve been drinking again. So, keep it in. The parsnips won’t mind. They don’t really like being the center of attention, anyway.
Hungarian Bean Soup
In case you were wondering what the Hungarians have done for you, lately.
1½ cup dried pinto beans, soaked overnight (local source: Baer’s Best at Russo’s)
4 Tbsp. olive oil
4 ribs celery, diced
2 medium onions, diced
2 parsnips, diced
2 carrots, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 quarts vegetable stock (that’s 12 cups, to save you some math)
3 bay leaves
1 lb. kielbasa, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 tsp. paprika
Drain and rinse beans, then put into a medium pot and cover with cold water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until just tender (maybe 45 minutes, but this can vary). Drain and set aside.
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add celery, onions, parsnips, carrots, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add stock, beans, and bay leaves, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until vegetables and beans are soft, about 45 minutes.
Add kielbasa, paprika, and salt (for the love of god, be generous) and pepper to taste. Simmer 10 more minutes. Discard bay leaves.
Source: Saveur. This recipe evidently came from some cutting-edge San Francisco elementary school cafeteria that doesn’t serve Ring Dings as part of their balanced meals. Flint and Zbinovsky seem to be the lunch ladies in question, from what I can gather. Something about how they’re creating the food snobs of tomorrow. Good. It’s like learning a foreign language. You have to start early.