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Spicy Thai-style parsnip soup

I don’t know about you, but I love this time of year. It’s getting a bit colder, a bit damper, a bit more… bleak. I, for one, quite like it. The novelty of wintery mornings hasn’t worn off yet, as it tends to around mid-November and, for the time being anyway, I intend to celebrate the turning of the seasons with some much needed (healthy) comfort food. I have got into soup making of late, especially veggie soups, which are easier, quicker and cheaper. I used to think making soup was too much effort, but that couldn’t be less true. It’s perfect for me, as I want to eat simple and healthy food but I don’t have that much time.

My tips for great veggie soup making are:

  • simple is best, don’t overcomplicate – one vegetable ideally as the centrepiece; 
  • add a flavour or two that would complement – spices, herbs or cheese; 
  • sweat your onions or miripois (carrot, celery, onions mix) nice and slowly to bring sweetness without colouring them; 
  • don’t overcook the veggies – just cook them to the the point you would if mashing or eating as is;
  • use a diluted stock if it’s shop bought as they are so salty, you want to be in control of your seasoning; 
  • season judiciously and taste constantly then adjust; 
  • blend well (unless you want a chunky soup of course); 
  • invest in good equipment – a heavy bottomed casserole pan or similar, and a hand blender or a food processor. 

Stick to those rules and you’re good to go. Healthy and cheap food in half an hour. Virtually no skill required.

On the occasion I made this (last week as it happens, I’m catching up!), I needed a veggie boost, but really fancied some heat too. I intended this to be for the kids but was a bit over eager with the red curry paste. If you wanted a milder effect, you could try using green curry paste, or just halving the amount so there is a background heat but not too much fire. Fresh coriander was a perfect garnish, maybe next time I’ll add some fresh red chillies. Or even some toasted sesame seeds…

To make enough for 6/8 adults: 
About 6/8 parsnips, depending on size
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 tin of coconut milk
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 litre of light vegetable stock (or more/less, depending on how thick you want your soup – if you’re not sure, go thick and thin out at the end with hot stock)
1 tablespoon of red curry paste (adjust accordingly, this made it quite spicy)
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
Fresh coriander to serve
Salt to taste

  • Soften your onion and garlic over a low heat in oil. 
  • Peel and roughly chop your parsnips. Add these to the onions and let them cook for 5 minutes without colouring. 
  • Add the curry paste, as much or little as you fancy. Let it cook out a wee bit. 
  • Pour in the coconut milk plus the hot stock. 
  • Let the vegetables cook for about 20-25 minutes, as long as it takes to get them to mashing consistency. 
  • Whizz up till very smooth. 
  • Add your sesame oil and coriander and season to taste.

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