Curried Parsnip Soup

In my opinion, curried parsnip soup is the best winter warmer of all – it’s hot and zingy but also creamy, and it will just fill you up with warmth, right down to your toes. The first time I ever tasted it was on a stinging cold New Year’s Day, standing round a bonfire with more than a bit of a hangover, and it tasted like the best thing ever.

4 large parsnips
1 onion
1 large courgette
A couple of cloves of garlic
A tablespoon of curry powder (more if you’re a curry fiend)
500ml chicken stock (or vegetable, if you want to make this vegetarian)
A couple of big tablespoons of crème fraiche
Salt and white pepper
Olive oil
Bread & cheese, to serve – try a nice creamy Brie

Serves 4

First of all, dice the onion and chop the garlic finely. Get them both sizzling gently in some olive oil, and once the onion has turned golden-brown, add the curry powder and stir through. The point of adding the curry powder before the liquid (which may seem counter-intuitive) is that it stops the soup being at all gritty with undissolved bits of curry powder.

Put the kettle on to boil to make the stock, and then peel and roughly chop your parsnips and slice the courgette. Once the stock is made up, add it to the pan with the parsnips. Bring the liquid to a simmer and then cover and leave it for about 20 minutes.
When you’re ready, take the pan off the heat and puree the vegetables with a handheld blender (an indispensable item for the dedicated soup-maker – and if you’re not a dedicated soup-maker, you should be, because soup is healthy, cheap AND delicious).

Finally, add the crème fraiche and stir through until it melts away. Season well, with salt and white pepper if you have it (I find it has a wonderful kick to it that is quite different to black pepper – but of course you can use black pepper if you don’t have white). Taste to make sure everything is scrumptious, then serve a big bowlful and scoff it with plenty of bread and cheese.