The temperature is below zero here and snow is falling outside my window as I type this post. After a short but quite exciting ride around the forest this morning - nothing like freezing cold weather for getting horses to behave badly! - I returned them to their field with a double ration of hay and hurried back down to the house muttering "soup, soup, soup".
There are indeed days when only soup will hit the spot, and today I longed for parsnip soup.
The French don't really get parsnips, and when we first came to Normandy, they only way I could eat them, would be if I grew them myself. Today, their qualities remain fairly confidential but at least they are to be found in small quantities in our local supermarket.
When I buy parsnips in the store, I am quite often asked by other shoppers what they are, and how to cook them! I answer that they are wonderful creamed, fantastic roasted and divine in a soup! Many French remain unconvinced, but I don't mind, that just leaves more for me!
To make my favourite soup I use:
1 large leek/onion
4 garlic cloves
1 large potato
Making soup is so easy, there's really no excuse for buying ready made. Most vegetables can be made into delicious soup using this same recipe.
Finely cut the leek/onion and garlic and pop them into a saucepan with a cube of butter. Let them cook slowly for about 5 minutes, making sure they don't brown. In the meantime peel and cut up the potato and the parsnips. If the parsnips seem to have a tough core then cut that out too. Add this to the pan and cook slowly for another five minutes.
When the vegetables are beginning to smell good then cover them with light chicken or vegetable stock. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and leave to simmer gently for about half an hour. I leave the lid on while they are simmering.
Test the parsnips with a knife, they should be soft, but not falling apart. Add seasoning, salt and freshly ground pepper definitely, and if you wish a small teaspoon of curry powder.
I either blend in the blender, or sometimes for smaller quantities with a hand held blender that stands up in the pan. The result should be thick and creamy, but if it looks too thick then a little extra stock can be added.
To serve the soup, it is nice to have a contrasting colour sprinkled over the top, I like little pieces of crispy chorizo, but it's also very good with parsnip slices or more simply with some chopped chives.
So tell me, what is your favourite soup to warm you if you're in the winter like me, or for those of you in the southern hemisphere what are you making to cool you down?
all photos thanks to google images