Sunday, 31 January 2010
Creamy vegetable soups are one of my most favourite of all winter foods. They make an elegant lunch, or a lovely light supper.
Parsnips are one of my favourite types of vegetables to use in winter soups. They have a natural sweetness, that is so very moreish to me. They smell a bit odd when they are cooking, or at least I think they do, but my oh my . . .what they lack in smell they more than make up for in flavour.
The key to a delicious vegetable soup is to brown the vegetables perfectly before you add any spices and herbs. This really helps to bring out the rich, and natural sweetness of any vegetable.
I like to use my stick blender to puree my soups. It's a lot easier and safer than using a conventional blender, although of course you can use a regular one if you like. Just take care if you do, as hot mixtures can be very explosive when rattled around in a sealed container.
Yes, I learned this the hard way. Either do it in small portions a little at a time, or cover the top very carefully with a towel and hold the lid down tightly!!!
I think the hazelnut/dried cranberry garnish on this soup makes it something really special. I really hope that you will try it.
I just know you will love it as much as we do. And that, my friends, is quite an awful lot!!!
*Creamy Parsnip Soup with Ginger and Cardamom*
Serves 3 to 4 as a main course
Creamy soup with a wonderful hint of sweet spices, ginger and cardamom m m m .
2 TBS olive oil
1 1/2 pounds parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 TBS butter
large pinch of sugar
3 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cardamom (remove the seeds from green cardamom pods, and
grind them to a powder in your morter and pestle)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 pints chicken broth
1 1/4 pints single cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 TBS coarsely chopped skinned hazelnuts
1 TBS dried cranberries
1 tsp butter
Heat the oil in a large deep saucepan over medium high heat. Once it shimmers, add the parsnips, and onions. Saute,stirring very little at first, and then more frequently towards the end, until the parsnips start to turn golden brown. This should take 7 to 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add butter, sugar, and garlic. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally until all the vegetables are a rich caramel colour, some 10 minutes longer.
Add the spices and cook, until fragrant, then add the broth. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until vegetables are tender. This should take about 10 minutes.
Using a stick blender, puree the soup until smooth. Stir in the cream and heat until warm. Season to taste with some salt and pepper.
Heat the tsp of butter for the garnish in a small saucepan. Add the hazelnuts and dried cranberries. Cook until golden and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
ladle the hot soup into heated bowls and top each serving with a portion of the hazelnut/cranberrie saute. Delicious!