IN MY opinion, parsnips are one of the most underrated vegetables. Many of us think of serving them only at Christmastime, perhaps because they are not readily available in Portugal throughout the whole of the year. Years ago, parsnips were considered only to be of reasonable quality if they had been in the ground during a good sharp frost – whatever the horticulturalists have now achieved means that even the early season crop arrives deliciously crisp and sweet to the taste buds.
If you want a warming vegetable to serve with a simple roast meat then steam, boil, or roast prepared parsnips until just cooked – mushy parsnip does not work for me! – and cover with a tasty cheese sauce. For those vegetarians who eat cheese and for those wanting a non-meat dish, this makes a great main course and can be accompanied by a little spinach and crispy garlic toast.
Parsnip and curry soup
Homemade soup is easy, delicious and nutritious – and, above all, cheap to make.
One of my favourite ways of using parsnips is in a Parsnip and Curry Soup. If you don’t like curry then just omit the curry paste – you will still have a great bowl of soup.
• 1.5kg parsnips
• Two large onions
• 1 tablespoon curry paste
• 3 stock cubes (beef, chicken,
vegetable or whatever you prefer)
Take 1.5kg parsnips and cut into pieces of a uniform size. Heat a little oil in a large pan and toss the prepared parsnip pieces around in this until slightly brown. Peel and chop two large onions and add these to the pan.
Add one tablespoon of curry paste – again the choice is yours, depending on what you have in your cupboard and how much curry flavour you want. I use the Garam Masala paste from Pataks and find that this quantity offers the flavour of curry without diminishing the sweetness of the parsnips.
Add 1.5 litres of stock made from three stock cubes (beef, chicken, vegetable – the choice is yours) and bring the contents to the boil. Cook until the parsnips are just cooked. Allow the mixture to cool for approximately 15 minutes. Liquidise the contents of the pan and return to the boil.
This soup freezes well, but remember that freezing will increase the intensity of the curry flavour.