Sunday, January 9, 2011

in praise of parsnips: curried parsnip and apple soup

During the winter our friend Trish's yarn shop, Yarns on York, is also the pick-up spot for CSA fruit and veg boxes.  In exchange, she gets a few extra bits of produce to with as she likes.  Thursday night as everyone else was going for bags of green and the butternut squash, I nabbed a bag of parsnips.  Much to everyone's shock.

Maybe it's because they look like a pale, knobby version of  more common carrot or maybe it's the name or possibly the smell (which apparently molecular-ly speaking is reactive and volatile), but parsnips seem to be one of those vegetables people are certain they hate often before they try it.  And for those who have tried it and hated it, I suspect that preparation has a lot to do with it.  Rare is the vegetable that shines after being boiled.  I've become a relatively recent fan of the oft-maligned root vegetable having found it to give an excellent depth of flavour to autumn stews.  Parsnips, like most root vegetables, are at their best when roasted and for Christmas dinner I did a side of stove-top roasted carrots and parsnips.  The parsnips gave the dish more complexity than a side of carrots alone. 

When I grabbed the parsnips on Thursday night, I'd intended to do that recipe again but my friend Jennifer suggested this curried parsnip and apple soup from BBC chef Delia Smith.  I'm so glad she did.  I love curried carrot and pumpkin soups but they've become ubiquitous and this was a great way to change up an old favourite.  You still get the sweetness juxtaposed with the savoury curry spices but with the added complexity of parsnip and the tartness of apples.  The recipe suggested making parsnip crisps to garnish which sounded intriguing but getting out the mandoline and a skillet of oil was more less appealing so I just grated a little extra apple on top.

It's a rich hearty savoury soup and the turmeric makes it a bold sunshiney yellow: just what you need on a cold winter's night.

Interestingly despite the pale colour, parsnips are actually higher in vitamins and minerals than carrots particularly potassium.

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