You know the saying, "you don't know what you're missing..."? Tonight's dinner pretty well sums that up for me. Because neither of my parents can stand them, we never had parsnips in the house and I didn't so much as taste one until I was 20. Once I did, though, I was hooked. This soup recipe comes from the peerless Jane Grigson's wonderful book Good Things and is quite simply perfect in its simplicity. I adore this book and, if you don't already have a copy I heartily recommend it. It has recently been republished in hardback by Grub Street. The recipe itself calls for beef stock but, as I didn't have any in the freezer this time, I substituted duck stock, which I did have. It worked very well, too - though I wouldn't want to cook it with anything other than a strong, richly-flavoured homemade stock. As the book was first published in 1971, the recipe uses imperial measurements and I have left it alone. I can't compete with Mrs Grigson; these words are hers.
Curried Parsnip Soup
4oz chopped onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
rounded teaspoon curry powder
2 pints hot beef stock (and see above)
1/4 pint cream
Peel and slice the parsnip. Put the onion, parsnip and garlic into a heavy pan with the butter and cook for 10 minutes slowly with the lid on the pan. The vegetables must not brown, but gently absorb the butter. Add flour and curry powder to take up the fat, and gradually incorporate the hot beef stock. Simmer until the parsnip is cooked. Liquidize or push through the mouli-légumes. Return to the pan, correct seasoning with salt, pepper and a little more curry powder if liked (but be cautious: keep the flavour mild). Add the cream and a sprinkling of chopped chives. Serve with croûtons of bread fried in butter and oil.
Note: liquidized soup may need the further dilution of some extra stock, or some creamy milk.
I feel I must confess that we didn't eat the soup with croûtons, but with homemade bread and some chorizo sausage. The spicy paprika flavour is brilliant with this subtly-flavoured, velvety potage.