Juliet, my eleven-year old daughter, bought a huge parsnip at the winter farmer’s market with her own money. She came back to me brandishing this white war club and hollering, “Look how big it is! It was only two dollars. I love parsnips, can we make soup?”
It came home with us, went in the crisper, and stayed there for a while. We were busy, I was sick, so it waited. Fortunately parsnips are great keepers, so this morning when she pulled it out and came into my room saying, “We’re making soup today!” it was still in perfect condition. On a cold, windy February day it was perfect to put a stew in the crock-pot for dinner. Polling the family and looking at the contents of the refrigerator led to an ad-hoc recipe, and a request for dumplings on top.
Once we had an idea of what we were doing, we started pulling ingredients together. Besides the parsnip, I had four large sausage links that needed used, four portobello mushrooms that were seriously overrripe, and some carrots lingering sadly in the crisper.
Sausage Parsnip Stew
4 parsnips (the equivalent to out monster)
1 large onion
4-5 garlic cloves
4 portobello mushrooms
4 oz pesto (I used my handmade, frozen green goodness)
5 c chicken broth
1 can chickpeas
1 c red lentils
1 c frozen corn (optional. Juliet insisted, but I think it would have been fine without this)
We chopped the mushrooms up, cut the sausage into meatball-size pieces, and roughly chopped the onion before browning them all in the big cast iron skillet with a little olive oil. The garlic cloves, crushed, went in there as well. While I was doing this, Juliet cubed the parsnip and cut the carrots into 1/2 thick slices. I had put the pesto into the 7 qt crockpot to melt a little while we worked on this.
Once all the prep was done, I dumped everything in the crokpot with the broth, stirring it all up and putting a lid on it. We reserved the corn until we put the dumplings on top. We left this on high for about 4 hours. On low, at least 6 hours until done. Perfect slow food for an all-day cooking.
When I make dumplings, they are essentially biscuits, steamed on top of the stew. My Dad loves them, and since he broke his ankle yesterday, we wanted to cater to him a little.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup milk
Mix together the dry ingredients, then cut in the shortening until it is pea-sized. Finally, stir in the milk, stirring only until the dry materials are fully incorporated. Scoop by spoonfuls onto the top of the stew and cover. Cook for another 40 minutes on high. To test for doneness, break open a dumpling, it should not be gooey inside.