Curried parsnip and apple soup

Serves 4-6

This is such a favourite! I associate it with cookery writer Jane Grigson, Sophie Grigson’s mum. Cookery writer mother, cookery writer daughter. Jane’s Fruit Book and her Vegetable Book are both to be treasured if you have copies. I believe that it was Jane who first introduced the idea of a curried parsnip soup. When I wrote High Fibre Cooking in 1996 (it was republished as High Fibre, High Flavour in 2000) I added a sharp cooking apple to my version of the soup which otherwise can be quite sweet. The most widely used cooking apple is the Bramley although my favourite is the Howgate Wonder: they both cook to a fluff and make delicious puds, albeit with a certain amount of sugar required. Cooking apples seem to be particular to the UK – if you are elsewhere use 1 or 2 tart green eating apples, e.g. Granny Smith’s. Add more or less curry paste or powder to taste.

    1 large or 2 medium onions
    500g or 2 large parsnips
    1 tbsp oil
    1 tbsp or 1-2 tsp curry powder
    1 large cooking apple

1 Peel and chop the onion roughly. Peel and chop the parsnips into 1cm chunks, cutting the bigger slices in half.

2 Heat the oil in a saucepan that has a lid. Add the onion and the curry paste or powder, stir, cover and cook over a low heat for 5 minutes, stirring once. Add the parsnip, stir and continue cooking while preparing the apple.

3 Quarter the apple, then peel and core it with a small sharp knife and cut it into slices. Stir into the pan with some salt and pepper, then pour in sufficient water to cover all the ingredients. Bring to the boil, cover and cook slowly for 25-30 minutes, or until the parsnip is tender.

4 Cool the soup slightly, then blend until smooth.

5 Return the soup to the pan and add a little more water or some milk if it is too thick. The texture of soup is a very personal thing! Reheat and season with salt and pepper and perhaps a little sugar or a squeeze of lemon.

6 The soup can be garnished with freshly chopped parsley or coriander, or dried apple crisps.

Top Tips:

Making soup is really simple – just chop everything up and boil it until soft in water or stock, then whizz it up. HOWEVER

The best soups – the ones with the deepest flavours – always start by slowly cooking the vegetables in a little oil or butter to draw out as much flavour as possible. If you are following a low fat diet start the soup by softening the onions with the curry paste or powder in a very small amount of water, then add the parsnip and continue half simmering, half steaming while you chop the apple.

Hand blenders and food processors will whizz up your soup but the smoothest texture will always be achieved by using a blender.

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