Yesterday was the winter solstice. Shortest day of the year, and rather cold to boot. That said, our 9°C and intermittent downpours was rather paltry in comparison to a large part of the rest of the country which was either snowed under or being battered by truly ferocious winds (or both). Given the large swathes of the country that are (still) cut off or without power, I can hardly complain. Instead, I think we can all just agree that 9°C is excellent soup weather.
For this month’s Random Recipes challenge, Dom chose the theme of “healthy & happy” – poor Dom has had a bit of a rough time of it lately, so healthy recipes are the order of the day over at Belleau Kitchen at the moment. I plucked my copy of River Cottage Veg Everyday! off the shelf on the basis that vegetables = healthy (I would obviously make an excellent nutritionist), followed the instructions of the random number button on my calculator and landed on on page 157: parsnip and ginger soup. Excellent choice, calculator – soup certainly makes me happy in this weather, and ginger is full of health benefits, so that’s both bases covered. Sure, there’s milk and a wee bit of cream in it, but I’m all about dairy products, so that makes me happy, too. And calcium is important, right?
I love creamy, velvety soups, so this one was definitely right up my street. The ginger is really what makes this soup – it adds a fiery dimension, and is definitely warming. I had more ginger in the cupboard than specified in the recipe and decided to throw it all in, which was slightly too keen – it may have blown my socks off, but I guess at least it cleared my sinuses. So I’ve given the quantities specified in the original recipe, not the ones I used.
Parsnip & ginger soup
Adapted from River Cottage Veg Everyday!
The ginger is quite fiery (and thus warming – excellent for winter!), so the amount you should add will depend on your taste. If you want to freeze the soup, do so at the end of step 3, before adding the milk. You can add either unsweetened yoghurt or double cream to serve – I personally preferred the yoghurt option as I found it cut through the fieriness of the ginger rather nicely.
1 large onion
4 garlic cloves
4-5 cm piece of ginger
Extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp Cayenne pepper
¼ tsp ground cumin
500ml vegetable stock
200ml whole milk
2-3 tbsp flaked almonds, to serve
1-2 tbsp thick unsweetened yoghurt or double cream, to serve
1. Prepare the vegetables. Peel the parsnips and chop into roughly 1cm cubes, set aside. Peel and finely chop the onion, set aside. Finally, peel and finely chop the garlic and ginger (top tip for peeling ginger: use a teaspoon. Sounds really odd, I know, but it works wonderfully), set aside.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened and translucent. Add the garlic, ginger and spices, and stir for a few minutes before adding the parsnips. Stir to coat the parsnips with the spices. Add the stock and 300ml of water, season with salt and pepper and simmer for about 15 mins until the parsnips are very soft.
3. Remove the soup from the heat and blend either in a food processor or using a stick blender, until smooth and velvety.
4. Return the soup to a low heat, add the milk and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Whilst the soup is warming, toast the flaked almonds in a small frying pan, until just golden.
5. Serve immediately, adding a drizzle of cream or yoghurt to each bowl, and topping with the toasted almonds.