A week or so ago, the temperatures really dropped in Edmonton. As I was walking to school with Aditi, all bundled up against the snow and wind, I said to her, well, Aditi, looks like winter's finally set in! Cue, wailing and nooooooo... but it's not even Halloween yet! Sorry kid, but Halloween's all well and good, but winter's here and this was one of the shortest autumns I've had so far. Now its time to pull out the giant winter coat, wear three layers of clothes, double up on the socks, look like weirdo in gigantic winter boots. Makes me feel like letting out a wail and a half too!
Of course, the fact that Halloween's around also means that poor mommy was out yesterday in a snow storm, trying to find a bloody ladybug costume for a pampered child
(Just as an aside, do you know how hard it is to find a ladybug costume for a four year old? Its easier to give in and let her go as Tinkerbell or Cinderella instead... but way too many princesses in the world, thank you v. much! Argh! PS - I did find a costume in the end... even if when I got home my ears were all but fallen off because of said snowstorm... aaaarrgh, again! PPS - Here's a picture of said pampered child in her ladybug costume... it was worth all that frostbite)
So of course, as soon as the weather turns miserable, all my root vegetables come out and the blender starts working overtime. And if I can add a shot of curry powder to the soup, well, all the better. In my humble opinion, there is no such thing as too much spice, is there??
When I first made my Madras curry powder blend, little did I know that it would turn out to the be my new favourite spice mix... it even manages to eclipse my beloved bafat mix. And I love that its a such a versatile blend, I use it in everything from soups to mayonnaise for curried potato salad. For this soup, in particular, the fresh spice mix adds a huge amount of flavour, so I would urge you to make your own if you can. Of course, store bought is fine too, just remember to get the mild version for this recipe.
This year has been a mixed bag in terms of garden produce. On one hand we had one of the worst hailstorms ever, decimating almost all the fresh herbs and salad leaves. On the other hand, a lot of the hardier root vegetables survived and I was inundated with parsnips and potatoes and carrots. The parsnips for this soup came from the garden, and as soon as they were in, I knew I was going to make this incredible soup.
I adapted this recipe from one of Kathryn's seasonal vegetarian classes, but made a few changes to it to suit everything I had in my fridge and store cupboard. I also didn't want to use cream so I amped up the flavour using fresh hot chillies and ginger. The resulting soup is a gorgeous, rich, spicy-sweet concoction, full of flavour and just the perfect pick me up on a -12 C evening. I made a massive batch of this soup, and froze a fair bit as its really super easy, and its a perfect supper with some fresh, crusty French bread.
1 kilo parsnips
2 tablespoons unscented oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
1 - 1 carrots, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 inch piece of ginger, chopped
½ small hot red chilli, chopped
1 tablespoon Madras curry powder
1 litre vegetable stock
500ml hot water
Salt to taste
Fresh ground black pepper
Wash and peel the parsnips and cut into 1 inch chunks.
Heat the oil in a heavy based pot, and add the onion, celery and carrot. Reduce heat and sweat gently for about 10 minutes.
Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and fry gently for an additional minute. Add the Madras curry powder, stir and cook for two minutes.
Add the parsnips to the pot. Stir to coat the parsnips with the onion mixture, then cook together for about 5 - 7 minutes, until the parsnips start to fray around the edges.
Add the vegetable stock to the pot. Season with a little salt, but not to taste just yet. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the parsnips are completely tender. Let cool a little.
Puree the soup until smooth and creamy, using an immersion or a normal blender. You may need to use some hot water at this stage to loosen the soup as it will be really thick at this point. Adjust the water until you achieve the texture of soup you like.
Return to the pot, and season to taste with salt. Reheat gently, and serve with a sprinkling of black pepper and some crusty bread.