Curried Parsnip Soup

I remember my mother making this soup from¬†Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book.

The paperback became the family bible for all things culinary along with her Fruit Book – especially when my father grew vegetables, like scorzonera and salsify, that we had no idea how to cook.

I have an old moulinex electric grinder which I keep reserved for grinding spices – you can see the book in the background

It’s a book of it’s time – first published in the late 1970’s when my sister, brother and I were really beginning to take an interest in cooking.

It’s now dog-eared and re-covered like all well used cookery books and when we come across an unfamiliar vegetable or ingredient we quite often say, “Let’s ask Jane!” Or “What’s Jane got to say about that?”

It’s as if we’re talking about a well-loved friend even though we never met her and it’s almost thirty years since she died.

Anyway, back to the vegetable itself.

I added another two parsnips after this photo was taken as I didn’t feel these were enough!

I saved seed from my parsnips a year ago but they didn’t germinate.

To make this I used some Mum bought at the local shop and had almost forgotten about; left in a sweaty plastic bag in the veg box – quelle horreur!

Having said that they’re usually easy to grow – sow them direct into shallow drill in spring when the temperatures get above 12c.¬† In the early stages they may need thinning – a bit like carrots.

I knew I had a photo of a parsnip somewhere! This one grown by my friend Caroline Fernandez

They’re a useful vegetable as they’ll quite often stand a hard winter and will provide for about six months of the year from autumn to the end of February.

I have adapted the original recipe which included lashings of cream and butter.

This has soya cream –which works just as well.

I hate to say it but if you’re really pushed for time you can use a tablespoon of mild curry powder instead of the faff of grinding up your own spices.

That said – I rarely do because this blend is perfect for this recipe – it really is worth the effort.

And it makes the perfect flask of soup to take to work for lunch.

Curried Parsnip Soup
Servings: 4
Author: Cath
  • 1 heaped tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 level tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 dried red chilli or 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 rounded tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground fenugreek
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, split
  • 1 very big parsnip or 2 or 3 medium ones, peeled and cut up
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or vegan margarine
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 litre veg stock (4 tsp of bouillon powder to a litre)
  • 150 ml or less soya cream
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley or chives to garnish
  1. Whiz the first five ingredients up in an electric coffee mill or grinder or pestle and mortar. You may not need it all for this recipe so keep any surplus in a jar. 

  2. Cook onion, garlic and parsnip in the oil or marg on a low heat with the lid on the large saucepan for ten minutes or so. Do not allow them to colour.

  3. Stir in the flour and a tablespoon of the spice mixture and cook for two minutes stirring occasionally.

  4. Pour in most of the stock - say two thirds of it - gradually and leave to cook.

  5. When the parsnip is really tender puree in a blender or with a blender stick. and dilute to taste and right consistency with either water or more stock. 

  6. Correct the seasoning, reheat and add the cream (as much as you feel it needs, I add no more than 100ml) and scatter with herbs and serve with fresh bread or croutons.