It’s definitely a day for soup. Storm Desmond is howling outside; winds of more than 40mph make the relatively mild December temperature feel bitterly cold. I ventured outside this morning but when I arrived back home, making those carrots and parsnips sitting in my fridge into a warming and comforting soup for lunch seemed too good an idea not to follow through.
It’s a simple soup but with the added, silky luxury of the addition of some cream at the end – although you could, of course, making it perfectly successfully without. I roughly chopped 1 medium onion and started to soften it in a large saucepan with 25g butter and about 1 tablespoon olive oil. I topped and tailed 500g carrots and 500g parsnips. The carrots I simply scrubbed clean and chopped roughly into fairly small pieces. The parsnips needed peeling before chopping into similar sized pieces. Once the onion was starting to soften, I added the chopped carrots and parsnips. Then stir well and allow to cook on a gentle heat for about 5 minutes until starting to colour; this will give an extra depth of flavour to your soup. Stir frequently to prevent them sticking to the pan. Now add a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme (or use some dried if you don’t have fresh) and ½ teaspoon ground ginger (use fresh if you have it, but I didn’t). Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pour in enough hot water or stock to just cover the vegetables.
I have a lot of chicken stock in my freezer that I made last week, but because I wanted to freeze portions of the soup, I wasn’t going to risk defrosting then refreezing the stock, so I used water, which is fine. Once you’ve poured the liquid in, stir and bring it all to the boil, then turn the heat down and allow the soup to cook gently for about half an hour – or until all the vegetables are completely cooked. Remove from the heat and then take out the thyme sprigs and blitz the soup with a hand blender. This is when you add the cream, if using. I added 100ml of single cream.
Thin a little with more stock or hot water, if necessary. I think the soup is at its best quite thick, but you don’t want a vegetable purée! Check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Now it’s ready to serve, either straight away, as I did, or it can be reheated later. If not using straight away, store in a fridge until needed. Or, when completely cold, you can pack into freezer bags or containers to freeze – which is what I planned to do with the leftover amount after I’d had a portion for lunch.
Not essential, but nice, is to serve it with a little more cream swirled in the middle and some finely chopped parsley. I ate it with just a thick slice of toasted sourdough bread and a generous amount of butter to melt into it.
It was just the perfect antidote to the miserable weather outside: warm, comforting; a little additional warmth from the ginger; fragrance from the thyme; a touch of luxury from the cream. Although I’d used equal amount of carrots to parsnips, the distinctive earthy flavour of the parsnips dominated, but was softened by the sweet carrots. It’s a lovely combination and another great soup to add to my ‘winter soup’ repertoire! And this kind of good, healthy soup can make a great midweek family supper with a plate of cheeses on the side and plenty of good bread.