Parsnip Soup with Lime

I seem to use parsnips a lot for soups during the winter – their sweetness seems very comforting. This is a really easy soup, the only trick is to use the right amount of lime to get the balance of sweet and sour just the way you like it.

Makes around 3 portions

2 rashers bacon, chopped
1 small onion, very finely chopped
1 tsp fresh ginger, very finely chopped or grated
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp dark brown soft sugar
Generous pinch of dried chilli flakes
½ glass marsala
200 g parsnips, prepared weight, i.e. peeled, any woody bits from the core removed and cut into chunks
1 medium potato, peeled and chopped into small chunks
900 ml chicken or vegetable stock
2 tsp maple syrup
3 or 4 tsp lime juice

Fry the bacon briefly with a splash of olive oil in a large frying pan until some of the bacon fat is released and it starts to take on a little colour. Remove the bacon and set aside but leave the fat in the pan.

Add the onion to the pan, with an extra splash of oil if necessary, and fry gently for 7 or 8 minutes until it begins to soften. Add the garlic and ginger and continue frying for another 2 minutes. Stir in the sugar and chilli flakes. Pour in the marsala and continue cooking, stirring all the time, until the marsala has almost disappeared.

Stir in the parsnips and potato. Put the bacon back in the pan, pour over the stock and add the maple syrup. Season with a generous grind or two of pepper and simmer gently, uncovered, for 25 minutes or so until the vegetables are fully softened.

Allow the mix to cool a little, then liquidise, adding a little more stock or water if the soup is too thick. Adjust the seasoning and add the lime juice a little at a time until you get the balance of flavour the way you’d like it.

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