Sunday, 24 April 2011

Parsnip soup

The little bed of parsnips, i should have grown more!

I received an sms from a good friend tonight asking for a recipe for a parsnip soup I'd made. The problem is, i rarely follow recipes. I prefer to have a quick look online, get a feel for the key ingredients other people use and then make the rest up. Fortunately it wasnt that long I still have it (I think). 
Hollow Crown (Monteith beer for perspective only)

In October I planted a bed of Hollow Crown parsnips. I had no idea which variety to grow so I looked up my trusty Digger's catalogue and bought whatever they had which turned out to be this one. For most of my life i never really fancied parsnips and even bought some recently that had a rubbery outer flesh around a woody core which confirmed my take it or leave it attitude to them. But my wife likes them so i put in a small bed. I cant believe how good they are! I've made them into soup, baked them with a lamb roast and tonight we cut them into chips, par boiled them, then baked them in a tray with Maldon salt, pepper and rosemary till the outsides were crispy. They were still smooth and creamy inside. All round its a very under-rated vegetable and one i'll be growing again.

Anyway, to the recipe. Use your discretion with amounts, as i'm not that particular, and i tend to cook for an imaginery army so this will make a bucketload:
  • 2 onions
  • 2 leeks (because they were sitting in the fridge and i wanted to get rid of them)
  • 1 whole bulb of garlic
  • butter and olive oil
  • 500grams of bacon rashers
  • 1L of water
  • Herbs: 2 sprigs of sage, 6 sprigs of thyme, a handful of parsley, 2 sprigs of rosemary, oregano or marjoram, 2 bay leaves
  • 1 optional chilli (i put it in everything)
  • pepper to taste (no need for salt as the bacon and chicken stock has plenty unless you really need more)
  • 2-3 large parsnips, should be about 1-1.5kg (my largest has been 750grams)
  • 3 large potatoes
  • chicken stock
  • 100ml cream
  • 3 chorizos
  1. Chop the onion and leaks, roughly bash the garlic
  2. Brown the onions, leeks and garlic with the oil and butter on a heavy based saucepan
  3. Reduce the heat, add the bacon rashers whole and simmer it slowly to let the juices flow from the bacon
  4. Add the water, pepper and chilli, and all the herbs. I throw them in on the stalks and then fish out the stalks afterwards, or you can tie them in a bouquet garni if you're a little bit shmansy
  5. Turn up the heat, cover the pot and let it boil like crazy for about 20-30 mins to release all the flavours. I intentionally do the heavy boiling at this stage before adding the potatoes or parsnips. The starch burns easily and if you do all your heavy boiling prior to adding them, its easy sailing and burn free
  6. Once your herbs are thoroughly boiled so all the leaves fall off the stems, the bacon fat has disappeared, and the onions are no longer recognisable, you are ready to fish out the herb stalks and bay leaves, and pull out the bacon (whats left of it). I pull the bacon out so when you blend the soup you can add the bacon back afterwards as the hard little round bit of the bacon has a gritty feel when blended.
  7. Add the chopped potatoes, parsnips and the chicken stock and boil on a low heat till they are thoroughly cooked
  8. Add the cream and blend the lot
  9. Its ready to go! Slice and fry the chorizo and drop it on the top with a sprig of thyme if you're out to impress
Happy eating peoples, its a winner.

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