As a kid, approximately 473 years ago my favourite soup was Heinz Oxtail, I could live off the stuff right out of the can either hot, cold or mildly agitated. As a University student I then graduated to ‘packet’ Chicken Noodle which was essentially ‘dust with bits’ that you added bath water too and consumed whilst thinking about better things. Now, the only reason for that transgression was money…I didn’t have any…and I could buy 20 packets of Chicken noodle dust for £2.50…done deal…resulting in more Student loan cash for Thunder Bird and Mad Dog 20/20. As a student my priority compass as far as food was concerned was…f*cked up badly…but…I had one huge safety net…my Mothers cooking. I felt very safe, justified and fuzzy Monday through Friday eating total and utter rubbish knowing that the weekend would see my body and soul purged and purified by really bloody good home cooking which included the most incredible soups.
My parents still make soup in the most traditional of ways – shin of beef or shank dropped into a pot of water, pearl barley added along with root veg then left to simmer for hours. It is magnificent, it was magnificent when I was 18 and is still as magnificent today! That’s the recipe by the way – try it.
So – the Parsnip and leek soup: (apparently parsnips picked in the light of the full moon have ‘magical qualities’, or so I was told by the guy at the organic market………)
3 medium parsnips, peeled, roughly chopped
3 leeks trimmed, washed and roughly chopped
1 small spud peeled and halved
About 1 litre of good Chicken (or veg) stock
2 handfuls of chopped curly parsley
Salt and pepper
Cream to finish
No mystery here, just soup everything! In a big pot sweat down the leeks and parsnips and spud do this until you get a really hard concentrated veg smell from the pot. This is the most important part of soup making – with out the ‘sweat down’ you don’t release the natural sugars which is what you really need.
Turn the heat to a simmer, lash in the stock and leave for maybe 20minutes. Season with salt, pepper and thyme then blitz to a smooth soup. Don’t add the cream to the entire soup as it cuts the soups shelf life in half, only add the cream to each serving and enjoy with a big sandwich 🙂