Seasonal local recipe No 122: Curried parsnip soup

Another British cookery classic – this time from the late Jane Grigson. This was one of her favourite recipes and tastes all the better the day after you make it.

Her daughter Sophie Grigson is carrying on the tradition and makes this soup too. For the carnivores among you – it does bring out the flavour if you use beef stock, rather than chicken or vegetable.

You can substitute the freshly-ground spice mixture with a half tablespoon of curry powder or curry paste, but it’s not nearly as good as the real thing. I use creme fraiche rather than whipping cream.

Serves: 4

Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

1 medium sized onion
1 large clove of garlic, halved
1 large parsnip, peeled and cut into chunks
45 g butter
1 tbsp plain flour
A pinch of black pepper
1 litre beef stock (or chicken or vegetable stock)
150 ml whipping cream
A handful of chopped chives or parsley

For the spice mixture:
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
0.25 tsp fenugreek seeds
0.5 tsp dried red chilli flakes
1 tsp turmeric

To make the spice mix, dry fry the first three spices in a small, heavy frying pan over a moderate heat until toasted and aromatic. Tip into a bowl and leave to cool, and then grind to a powder with the chilli and turmeric. Store in an airtight jar.

Sweat the onion, garlic and parsnip gently in the butter, with the lid on the pan, for 10 minutes. Stir in the flour and a tablespoon of the spice blend, plus a little salt. Cook for 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pour in the stock, gradually. Bring up to the boil and simmer for about 15-20 minutes until the parsnip is very tender.

Liquidise the mixture, adding water or more stock if you have any to hand, until he soup has a similar consistency to double cream. Taste and correct the seasoning.

Reheat when needed, stir in the cream and serve scattered with chives or parsley.

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