Wednesday, 11 November 2009

The Unaccustomed Parsnip Soup

The supermarket had cheap parsnips yesterday, which seemed like a good opportunity for more soup making. More often than not I’ll make the old standby of a curried or spicy parsnip soup, but today I thought I’d make use of the sweet potatoes I had lying around and the stray Bramley apple in the fruit bowl.

I use marsala in this recipe because I think it complements the taste of root veg and squashes really well – I use it quite a lot during the winter, but you could use sherry or leave it out altogether, though that would be a shame, I think. The recipe will make around 5 portions of reasonably thick soup that will be just right on cold and dreary day – like today, funnily enough. Like a lot of the soups I make this is virtuously low in fat.

Parsnip Sweet Potato & Apple Soup

1 onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, crushed
Small glass of marsala
A generous pinch of crushed, dried chilli
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
375 g parsnips (prepared weight), peeled and chopped

190 g sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1½ litres vegetable stock
1 decent sized Bramley apple, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons lime juice

Give a large pan a quick spray or two of oil and start to soften the onion over a gentle heat. If it starts to dry out completely or looks in danger of taking on any colour, then add a splash of water. After a few minutes add the ginger and garlic and continue to cook on the gentle heat for another minute or two.

Throw in the marsala, increase the heat and wait until the marsala is reduced to next to nothing. Add a couple of turns of black pepper and the dried chilli, then stir in the sugar.

Tip in the parsnips, the sweet potato and 1 litre of the vegetable stock. Bring to a simmer and add the apple. Allow to simmer for about 25 minutes, or until all the chunky bits are properly softened.

Take the pan off the heat and allow it to cool a little and then liquidise the lot. Add some of the reserved stock as you go to get the thickness you like – you may not need it all. Adjust the seasoning and add the lime juice to taste. It’s difficult to say just how much lime juice you may need since parsnips seem to vary a lot in sweetness; you may not need it all but you just might find you want a little more.

You could serve the soup prettied up by some small dice of a red-skinned apple, if you were so moved.