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Curried parsnip soup

June 2, 2010

The soup season has returned and fortunately all those wonderful winter vegetables are gathering momentum.

Lately I’ve taken to making soup in the oven in an enamelled cast-iron casserole, a technique well suited to soups containing barley, split peas, lentils and other ingredients that can stick on the bottom when cooked on the stovetop.  They don’t require constant watching and can be left there longer so the flavours develop. Just don’t season too early.

The basis of a good flavourful soup is a proper stock. I bought a large bag of poultry frames for $1 and set to making my own. I placed them in the basket of my pasta pot, covered them well with water and added a tablespoon of salt, a couple of onions, a celery stick, a few peppercorns and a bayleaf. I didn’t want to add anything with too aggressive a flavour as I wanted the parsnip flavour to come through in the final soup.

The stock simmered away, covered for 90 minutes after which I just pulled out the basket containing the bones and vegetables, let the stock cool down then ran it through a sieve lined with a disposable blue kitchen cloth. I put the stock in the cleaned pasta pot and refrigerated it overnight. Next day I skimmed any fat from the top and the stock was ready to use.

I ended up with three or four litres so I put the surplus into containers in the freezer for later use. Since I made today's soup we've also enjoyed a great cauliflower and potato soup made in similar fashion, seasoned with ground cumin and served with baked sourdough slices sprinkled with grated parmesan.

curried parsnip soup

Curried Parsnip Soup

2 medium onions, finely chopped
1/2 medium fennel bulb, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2cm knob fresh ginger finely chopped
1 tablespoon curry powder
600g parsnips, peeled and sliced
200g butternut squash, peeled and diced
600-800ml chicken stock
salt and pepper
plain yoghurt or sour cream to serve

Heat the oil and gently sauté the onions, fennel and garlic until soft. Stir in the curry powder  and ginger then add the parsnips, squash and chicken stock. Bring to the boil then cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Check and adjust the seasoning and simmer a further 15 minutes.

Puree till smooth with a stick blender or in a food processor. Reheat and serve in bowls with a dollop of yoghurt or sour cream on top. Accompany with grilled sourdough or with small poppadums. Serves four.


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