Spicy Parsnip Soup

It’s Sunday. I’m tired after a late night and comfort food is the order of the day. Spicy parsnip soup fits the bill and the process of cooking will in itself be therapeutic, so here goes.

Soup of almost any type freezes well so there is no excuse for not making extra portions. Even the Locro De Papa I blogged about last year froze well and that contains avocado and cheese. Today’s recipe is a little more orthodox, although it is set apart by the Columbo Powder that differentiates it from your average parsnip soup..

In the ingredients list below I am making about 3 good sized portions of soup and about three times as much Columbo powder as required for this batch.

Ingredients

Main soup ingredients
750g parsnips
1 medium to large onion
3ish garlic cloves
An inch or so of root ginger
A quantity of butter – let’s say 30g

Columbo powder ingredients
1 tablespoon basmati rice
1 tablespoon corriander seed
1 tablespoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon fenugreek seed
1 teaspoon black mustard seed
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
3 whole cloves
3 dried chillis (more if you want really hot soup or less if you are soft)
1 tablespoon tumeric powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger

What do we need?
What do we need?

Peel and chop the parsnips, slice the onion and finely chop the garlic and root ginger. If you are taking photos for a blog create lots of unnecessary washing up by presenting the ingredients in dishes.

Chopped & peeled
Chopped & peeled

Instructions

You can be making the Columbo powder and starting the soup at the same time.

1) Melt the butter in a large pan and add the onion, garlic and chopped ginger. Set the heat to low medium and after a couple of minutes add the parsnips. Cook for a few minutes until the veg turns golden, stirring when you remember.

Fry until golden
Fry until golden

2) Heat a frying pan over a medium setting and dry fry the basmati for 5 minutes, giving it a shake every so often to keep things even.

Dry fry the basmati
Dry fry the basmati

3) Put the rice aside and add all of the spices to the pan except the ground ginger and tumeric. Dry fry for 3 or 4 minutes being extra careful not to let anything burn.

Dry fry the spices
Dry fry the spices

4) Now you want to grind the rice and spices.

Grind the rice & spices
Grind the rice & spices

5) You could use a good pestle and mortar although the rice may be hard to grind down to a powder without a lot of effort. I use a Wet & Dry electric grinder. It’s one of the few kitchen gadgets I use regularly. It is very convenient and really does make life easier…

Wet & dry grinder
Wet & dry grinder

…and then there’s the payback. Take a whiff of the freshly ground spices – wow!

Columbo powder - smells great!
Columbo powder – smells great!

As a rule you should always try and freshly grind whole spices in your cooking as opposed to the buying the ground variety. The spices last much longer this way and the flavours are much bolder. Furthermore when making curries always dry roast the spices prior to grinding them as this makes a world of difference to the potency of the recipe. It’s not much effort and the aroma alone will make it all worth while.

6) Mix the pre-ground ginger and tumeric to the freshly ground spices and you have Columbo Powder. The quantities listed made extra so I stored two thirds in a bag and froze it for future use. Add the remaining third to the pan and stir it all in, before adding a litre of vegetable stock.

Blend
Blend

Cover and simmer until the parsnip is tender and cooked – approx 25 mins.

7) You want to leave the pan to cool a little before blending the contents. Time for gadget number two. I’m using a hand blender here but you could use a food processor. It’s really important to taste the soup at this stage and add seasoning if required. I had to add a teaspoon or so of salt and give it another blend. You could also add a little cream if you have some knocking about but it’s not really needed and I’m trying to be healthy. Serve.

Spicy Parsnip Soup
Spicy Parsnip Soup

I sprinkled over some previously toasted cumin seed I found in the freezer. Alternatively some chopped fresh corriander or a dollop of crème fraiche would work well.

Consume, appreciating the unfolding depths of flavour presented by the Columbo powder. I ate out on the patio wearing pyjamas and a chefs apron while almost being reduced to tears laughing at a YouTube video on my netbook. God knows what the neighbours thought. Again.