When I told you all about parsnips last week little did I realise that I'd need a follow up post quite so soon. We decided the large parsnip on the right of last week's photo was too much, even for parsnip lovers like us, so I put it back in the damp newspaper I'd used to take it up to Yorkshire, so it wouldn't dry out. Back home I prefer to store them in the allotment, though I couldn't get at them last week because the ground was frozen solid! Others who dig them up and store them in damp sand would have been feeling most superior.
So it was just as well I had my newspaper wrapped parsnip when I came to make some soup. On unwrapping it, I was surprised to find the top of the parsnip had started to sprout as shown in the picture, betraying its close cousinship with celery. As a result I'm wondering if parsnip tops can be forced* like other vegetables such as beetroot. I'm tempted to have a go with the ones left up at the allotment. These tops are edible (so are carrot tops - has anyone tried them?), so I added them to my soup.
I didn't use either of the two recipes I linked to last week. Both are rather heavy on the cream and NAH and I are trying to eat more healthily at the moment. If you are too, you might like to try my version made up on the spot which uses no fat in its cooking. Don't worry, it's still delicious.
- 1 large parsnip - peeled, roughly chopped and including any vegetable tops. NB the more woody core of the parsnip can also be used, unless it really is as tough as old boots (this can of course be used to make stock for your next batch of soup instead)
- 1 large onion - peeled and roughly sliced
- 1.2 litres vegetable stock, or 1 vegetable stock cube made up to this amount, depending on what you have available
- Ground cumin seeds or similar spices such as ground coriander, nutmeg, garam masala or a mixture of any of these - to your taste. I used 2 heaped teaspoons of freshly ground cumin
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- Salt to taste - I don't use any in my cooking, so this is omitted for NAH and me
- Add the onion and stock to a large pan and heat through gently
- In the meantime prepare the parsnip and add to the pan
- Grind in some black pepper and add the spices you are using - taste and adjust seasoning if necessary
- Bring to the boil, then cover and turn down to a simmer immediately
- Simmer for 15 minutes and turn off the heat
- Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary
- Process the soup with a hand blender until the mixture is smooth and relatively thick
- Serve immediately - if you want, you can garnish with croutons, chopped parsnip or celery leaves, or even a swirl of cream if you're not counting the calories
Variations: I had a couple of leftover squashy tomatoes and half a pepper to add last week - they added to the parsnip's sweetness very well and gave the soup an attractive colour, though they're not strictly seasonal of course. Salad leftovers work well as would carrot or celery if you have some spare at the time. Use warming spice(s) like the cumin I used as they go so well with the warming nature of the parsnip itself. Remember to taste the soup for seasoning and spicing as you go.
* = strictly speaking I wouldn't be forcing them as I won't be digging the plants up like I did with my beetroot last year. The correct word when plants are left in situ is blanching, though the technique (the covering up part anyway) and the end result are the same.