Daylight savings is over, the days are cooler and the evenings longer. As we move into winter I find my cooking turns to foods that are warming to body and soul. Soups are a wonderful way to warm up for lunch or dinner as it is so easy to keep a container in the fridge or freezer, ready to heat up. Or maybe even crack out the old thermos to have your soup on the go!
There is always the standard fare when it comes to soup – the ubiquitous pumpkin, spiced and creamed with coconut or cows milk; pea and ham with its multi-blend of vegetables, hearty and filling; or maybe a chicken broth that you can zjoosh up with noodles and greens.
One thing that can help to add a depth of flavour to your soups is roasting some of the ingredients, especially the vegetables. A vegetable often overlooked is the parsnip. When roasted, this root vegetable is transformed into something rather special. Roasting enhances all its lovely flavours, especially it’s subtle sweetness. The parsnip blends beautifully with pears in this soup, which is delicately flavoured and quite delightful.
Parsnip and Pear Soup
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cup diced parsnip (~ 2 cm cube), about 3 large parsnips
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 litre chicken stock
1 tsp lemon zest
Pepper and salt
Preheat the oven to 190C. Line an oven tray with baking paper. Toss the diced parsnip with one tablespoon of olive oil and a little pepper and salt. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the parsnip is soft and just beginning to get a little golden colouring on its edges. Remove from the oven and set aside.
In a large pot, saute the onions in one tablespoon of olive oil until soft. Add the roasted parsnip and chicken stock, bring to the boil. Peel and dice the pears, add to the pot and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and puree in a blender or with a stick-blender (caution – hot liquid may splatter!). Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Serve hot with crusty bread.