Parsnips are the perfect winter vegetable, hearty and comforting for winter stews but their sweetness makes them feel a bit festive too. Dive into Becca's satisfying soup which is great to banish any winter chills.
It's strange - I'll go eleven months of the year without touching a parsnip, and then as soon as December rolls around, I go mad for them. I think I always forget how much I love them. They're the perfect vegetable to eat at this time of year - hearty and comforting (perfect for winter stews), but their subtle sweetness makes them feel a bit festive too! Not much can beat the combination of this intriguing sweetness and a parsnip's earthy, root vegetable flavour. This time I put them to good use in a classic parsnip and apple soup
. I didn't want the soup to be overwhelmingly sweet so I added a potato too - and that was about it. Such perfect flavour pairings don't need much else - no fancy herbs or spices, just good, simple flavours.
To start this soup off, just cook down some onions and garlic in a knob of butter and a drizzle of oil (if you're vegan you can easily skip the butter or use a vegan alternative). Once they're soft and just beginning to caramelise, you can add your potato, parsnip and apple, cover in vegetable stock, and then simply cook until the vegetables are soft. This really is easy to make, and the end result is a perfectly balanced, smooth soup. The starchy potato helps to make the soup creamy without needing to add any extra dairy - I'm certainly not opposed to having a tub of double cream in my fridge at this time of year, but that doesn't mean I'm not grateful for a lighter meal once in a while!
I made my soup super (souper?) thick because I love it that way - I find it so comforting. However if you'd like to stretch it to feed an extra person, you could water it down quite a lot without noticeably losing any flavour.
I like to serve my soups with some toppings to add a bit of variety. This time I used a few crumbles of soft goat's cheese and some chopped walnuts for a bit of crunch, as well as plenty of black pepper. I'm so glad I chose the toppings I did - the goat's cheese, especially, went perfectly with the slightly sweet soup (I was inspired by the combination of apples and goat's cheese in the dauphinoise potatoes
I made last time!).
However, if you prefer, you can choose your own toppings, or just serve this soup on its own or with some fresh bread and butter.
There's nothing better than coming in from the cold outside, putting on your slippers and settling down for a hot dinner - and apple and parsnip soup is the perfect option. If you're organised, you could even make it the night before so that when you get home, it will be just minutes before you're ready to dig into to a big bowl of steaming soup.
Apple, parsnip and potato soup
2 onions (or 1 small onion), diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium potato (around 230g)
1 medium parsnip (around 230g)
1 apple (around 230g) - I used a Braeburn but I'm sure most types would work
400ml vegetable stock
Optional toppings: soft goat's cheese, chopped walnuts
Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan, and cook the onion and garlic over a medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring every minute or so, until soft and translucent.
While the onions are cooking, prepare your other vegetables - chop the potato into chunks (I left the skins on mine), and peel and chop the parsnip and apple.
When the onions are cooked, add the other vegetables to the pan, and mix well. Add the vegetable stock (it should be almost covering the vegetables - adjust the quantity as needed, depending on the size of your pan), and cover with a lid, leaving just a small gap for ventilation. Simmer over a medium heat for around 25 minutes, stirring every now and then, until all the vegetables are very soft.
When the vegetables are ready, use an immersion blender to blend the soup until smooth. Season with a generous amount of black pepper - you probably won't need salt unless you used low-sodium stock. Adjust the thickness of the soup as desired - if you'd like it to be thinner, just add a little more stock, and if you'd like it to be thicker, cook over a medium heat for a few minutes, stirring constantly.
Serve topped with soft goat's cheese and walnuts, if desired.
Inspired? For more winter soup recipes visit Great British Chefs collection.