One of the key problems of subscribing to an organic veg delivery scheme is that you get what you’re given, and this sometimes leads to a growing mountain of something that you’d rather not have.
Nobody in our family really likes parsnips. They’re OK, I suppose, but not in the ‘hmm, what shall we have with that pork chop? How about a couple of parsnips?’ type way. Normally, parsnips are cut unevenly, roasted badly, and end up with the thin ends bitter and charred.
Faced with a hoard of eight unevenly sized and desperate to be used specimens, I decided to make a soup, shamelessly ripping off Jamie Oliver’s take on the classic creamy parsnip soup.
Finely chop a large onion, two cloves of garlic and a thumb-sized chunk of peeled fresh ginger and sweat in olive oil in a large pan with a tablespoon of good garam masala for ten minutes or so until sweet and translucent.
Meanwhile, peel and chop at least six parsnips. Parsnips come in all manner of sizes, so it’s hard to be exact about the amount of vegetable you need. Suffice to say that this is a soup – the more that goes in, the more comes out. You can adjust the amount of liquid at the end in any case.
Add the parsnips to the pan with the softened onions and turn everything around so that the parsnips pick up a golden colour of the from the spices. Season well.
Add 500ml of milk, full fat adds extra creaminess and texture, along with a litre of good vegetable stock. bring to the boil and turn down to a simmer immediately, and let it all bubble with a lid on for about half an hour until the parsnips are tender.
Allow the soup to cool a little, then blitz through a blender until smooth. Adjust the seasoning.
Serve with a couple of sliced red chillies, if you dare.
The success or otherwise of this soup rests with two things – the quality of the parsnips, and the quality of the garam masala. Garam masala is a superb store cupboard standby, and can be used in many situations to add a slightly eastern touch to a dish, so it’s worth seeking out a good brand and sticking to it. As with all ground spices and spice mixes, don’t let it sit in the cupboard for too long, losing flavour.
The soup is warming and spicy, with a subtle curry flavour that offsets the sweetness of the parsnips. It all tastes a little bit Victorian, a collision of British and Asian food.