Sunday, 16 November 2014

Curried Parsnip Soup with Smoked Haddock

I love the sweet earthiness of parsnips and truly feel that they are a much underused vegetable. When I was younger, my grandmother would sometimes serve them peeled and simply boiled as a vegetable accompaniment to her fabulous roast chicken. At Christmas, she would roast them, drizzled with a little honey in some hot oil and serve them alongside the turkey, roast potatoes and Brussels sprouts… but in reality we didn’t have them too often. I love them, but to be honest they were always a divisive vegetable, with half of the family (ironically, all the women) loving them whilst the other half (all the men) hated them.  For me, to this day, Christmas dinner is not Christmas dinner without roasted parsnips. My children aren’t keen on them, but I still make a large serving-bowl full of them, in the hopes that I will be able to convince them that parsnips are a wondrous and totally delicious vegetable!

Of course there are so many other ways that parsnips can be used other than just boiling or roasting them… Then can be thinly sliced and deep fried to make parsnip crisps, puréed and because they have an inherent intense, natural sweetness, they can even be used in more innovative ways to make cakes, ice-creams and other desserts! Here I have used them a little more simply to make a beautiful creamy curried soup which I have topped with some flakes of smoked haddock. The sweetness of the parsnips is tempered by the spicy warmth of the curry and the smokiness of the fish to create a beautifully balanced and very moreish soup – it was yum!

This was quite a substantial and filling soup, given the addition of the smoked haddock, but on a cold, wintry day it makes a delicious lunch. You could also serve it in smaller portions as a tasty starter at Christmas… It’s hugely adaptable. The great thing about it is that even people who aren’t fans of parsnips seem to love this soup… my three fussy eaters at home all loved it and I think that I achieved something worthwhile in creating a soup that they liked a lot despite the fact that it contained a vegetable that they had previously claimed to dislike!

Ingredients:

25g butter
1 medium sized onion, peeled and chopped
2 sticks of celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1tsp medium curry powder
800g parsnips, peeled and chopped into 2cm chunks
1 medium potato, peeled and chopped
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped
1 litre of vegetable stock
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
100ml cream
To finish:
250g smoked haddock
Enough milk to just cover the smoked haddock
2 bay leaves

Method:

1. Heat the butter in a large saucepan and gently fry the onion, celery and garlic over a moderate heat for approximately 5 minutes until softened but not coloured. Add the curry powder and stir through, coating the onions, celery and garlic and cook for a further minute.
2. Add the parsnips, potatoes and apple and stir again. Cover the saucepan and allow the vegetables to sweat and soften a little without colouring. Add the stock, increase the heat and bring up to the boil. Reduce the heat, until everything is just simmering. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover the saucepan and cook for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
3. Spoon the contents of the saucepan into a liquidiser or blender (doing it in batches if necessary) and purée until smooth. Pour into a clean saucepan and keep warm over a gentle heat until ready to serve.
To finish:
4. Place the smoked haddock in a small saucepan and pour in enough milk so that the fish is just covered. Add the bay leaves and place saucepan over a moderate heat and bring up to the boil. Allow to cook for approximately 5 minutes and then remove from the milk. Remove the skin from the smoked haddock and break into small flakes.
5. Add the cream to the soup and stir through. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve the soup in bowls with the flaked fish on top.
 
Serves 6.