Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sayonara Summer

I think someone neglected to tell Mother Nature that it's technically summer for a couple more weeks. The rain the past evening and day has been relentless....heavy and straight down from the cloud to the ground..or my head, feet, face. The upside is that, in the foodie world that is my head at any given point in time, Fall means one thing, comfort food. Soups, stews, roasts, chili....bring it on!
I had a bit of a blitz in the kitchen today after a 2 hour very wet hike up Mosquito Creek. Shoes are still outside 6 hours later and rain jacket is apparently not 100% waterproof. I could not wait to get inside, into some warm dry clothes and get cooking.
I made a couple of different things which I will blog about later as they are a bit random...Kale Chips and also a non dairy cheesy dip made with nutritional yeast. It tastes better than it sounds. Check back later this week for the lowdown on these 2 vegan snacks.
The recipe I am most excited about is some soup that I literally just finished eating and felt compelled to write about ASAP.
It's from a book my mum gave me as a gift called "Soups for All Seasons" by New Covent Garden Food Co.
This isn't just a cook book, it doubles as a coffee table book. Any one that scans my cook book collection notices this book. The recipes are not your average soup recipes. The book is arranged by seasons and each one comes with a little blurb about it's origins. I'll list off some of the recipes to highlight the fabulousness of this book:
Duck and Pomegranate
Cauliflower, Mustard and Gorgonzola
Apple, Vine Tomato and Smoked Bacon
Watercress, Pear and Brie.

Carrot, Mango and Cumin

See what I mean?

Anyway, I always enjoy thumbing through this book and getting excited about soups but I needed the rainy deluge to create the perfect ambiance for soup making.
I chose a recipe that is listed under October but it's close enough weather-wise to be appropriate. The soup is Maple Roast Parsnip and here's the info:

Maple Roast Parsnip Soup

2 tbsp olive oil
4 medium parsnips, peeled and cut lengthwise
2 tbsp maple syrup
1oz butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon plain flour ( I used Spelt flour)
1 litre chicken stock
4 tbsp double cream ( I omitted this due to dairy intolerance)
salt and freshly ground pepper


Preheat oven to 190C/375F and place olive oil in roasting dish, then heat in oven.
Steam parsnips for 6 minutes until soft
Toss steamed parsnips in the roasting dish and roast for 15 mins until starting to colour. Add the maple syrup and roast for a further 10-15 minutes until stick and caramelized.
Remove dish from oven and set aside.
Melt the butter in dutch oven and cook onions and garlic until soft. Add flour and cook for another minute.
Add the stock and parsnips, bring to boil and cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Blend until smooth and add cream and season to taste. cook gently for 2 more minutes and serve.

I basically followed the recipe as listed except I used Spelt flour and I didn't use the cream but it still tasted A-MAZ-ING. It's a really thick, creamy soup with so much flavour. I absolutely love parsnips, especially roasted. I could easily have just eaten the maple roasted parsnips as my dinner and been quite satisfied with that but I thought I should really finish the soup and I would need the parsnips for that. I did sample a couple of the most caramelised ones though.
I'll take this opportunity to share a couple of foodie tips:
1) don't put your garlic directly into an empty hot pan (with oil/butter). The garlic will burn. First put in your onion and then add the garlic.
2) when using parsnips, remember to remove the woody inner part that is found in the thicker parts of the parsnip. Any part thicker than your little finger will be too woody inside. I cut the parsnip length ways and then cut again to quarters. I then stand the pieces on end and run the knife down the middle to remove the core.

I also have to say that adding chopped onions to a hot pan is possibly one of my favourite foodie sounds ever...along with the "glug glug glug" of the first pour from a wine bottle and popping mustard seeds.

I followed the rest of the recipe and decided that some crispy bacon bits would complement the sweet maple nicely so once I had removed the parsnips from the oven, I put some bacon slices in the dish and put it back in the oven while the soup simmered. It hasn't quite crisped up by the time the soup was ready so I chopped it into small pieces and pan fried. Voila, it was as good as it sounds. This is officially my new favourite soup.
I'm having more for lunch tomorrow and will make the Apple, Vine Tomato and Smoked Bacon soup later in the week seeing as I have the majority of a pack of bacon to use up now.

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