This week, our chef Clodagh McKenna prepares a zingy winter soup with a glut of seasonal vegetables
Curried apple and parsnip soup
Preparation time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 25 mins
1 onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 potato, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 parsnips, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 baking apple, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 tablespoon medium curry powder
1 litre hot vegetable broth
100ml crème fraîche
Julienned apple and crispy bacon lardons
1. In a saucepan, melt the butter over a low heat and stir in the onion, garlic, potato, parsnips, and apple. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover and cook until the parsnips and apple are tender, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
2. Remove the lid and stir in the flour and curry powder, stirring continuously to coat the ingredients and ensure no lumps form.
3. Pour in the hot broth, stirring well, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for another 10 minutes.
4. Transfer the ingredients into a food processor, blend to a smooth consistency. Stir in the crème fraîche.
5. Pour back into the saucepan and gently warm through (adding the crème fraîche will have lowered the temperature).
6. To serve, pour the soup into bowls and garnish with the julienned apple and some crispy bacon lardons.
Every Saturday morning I start a big pot of broth in my kitchen. Once it is on the go, it encourages me to cook soups, stews or risottos. For beef stock, brown marrow bones by roasting or frying. When browned, add chopped onion, celery and carrot with a whole bulb of garlic. Fry off then cover with water. Add a spoon of tomato paste, a splash of red wine, thyme, bay and black pepper. Simmer gently for four hours with a gap in the lid so that the stock can reduce.
To make a vegetable broth, add chopped celery, onion, leeks, carrot and a bouquet garni, and a splash of sherry (optional) to a saucepan filled with cold water. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for at least an hour. Add a few dried porcini mushrooms. Broths freeze well, and I always fill an ice cube tray with broth for when I want some for sauces or gravy.
For chicken, I'd add white wine and bouquet garni. For fish, use vegetables such as leek and fennel and flavour with dill. Right now, there are so many delicious root vegetables. Parsnips, with aromatic curry powder, sweet apples and a sprinkle of pancetta are divine. Carrots with fresh ginger and cumin, or butternut squash cooked with coconut milk and vegetable broth, are good too. I jazz up soups with a drizzle of crème fraîche or balsamic vinegar. Or add pesto, tapenade or a crumble of cheese.
A topping can lift them: try bacon bits on lentil soup, croutons with olives and basil in tomato soup, roasted pieces of squash and pumpkin seeds for the butternut squash one.