Monday, January 22, 2007

Cheap & quick entertaining: a curried parsnip soup

A cheap and quick starter wasn't intentional last night, it just kind of happened. We had four guests (well, five, if you also count my friends' 6-month old daughter Matilda) over for dinner on Saturday night, eating smoked salmon & dill tartlets for starters, beetroot & blue cheese risotto for main course & chocolate souffles for afters. These all required attention and some last-minute TLC. On Sunday we had some guests over again, but this time we couldn't afford any hectic last-minute running-around. We visited my parents in the afternoon, didn't get back until late and there was just an hour to prepare a dinner in the evening.

We needed something quick and preferably something that could be prepared ahead. K, the pastry chef of the house, made some panna cottas in the morning (plus the guests brought along a mascarpone & cherry cheesecake!). I quickly decided to make Rachel Allen's Moroccan Chicken Tajine as the main course, but couldn't really make up my mind about the starter. Until I remembered those three chunky parsnips that I had bought before (gasp!) Christmas but never got around to making anything with them.

A cheap & simple curried parsnip soup was the resulting starter. Quickly made in the late morning and simply re-heated for a few minutes later. The guests arrived in the midst of a minor snow blizzard, so this heart-warming soup was spot on.

If you cannot find parsnips, then try this dreamy carrot & orange soup instead.

Curried parsnip soup
Serves 6

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped finely
2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
3 medium parsnips, cut into smallish chunks
3 tsp mild to medium curry powder
1 litre hot vegetable stock (Marigold is fine)
100 ml single cream
freshly ground black pepper

To garnish:
fresh chopped parsley

Heat the oil, add chopped onion and garlic and fry gently for about 7-8 minutes, until the onion starts to soften. Add parsnip chunks, stir to coat with oil. Cover the saucepan and let the vegetables to sweat in their own steam for a few minutes.
Stir in the curry powder, add the vegetable bouillon and bring to the boil. Reduce heat, simmer for 20 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
Let the soup cool, then puree with a blender.
When you are ready to serve, add cream and re-heat gently.
Garnish with parsley.


Anonymous said...

That sounds good Pille! I really must explore veggies that I don't regularly use...that's why I love reading food blogs! :)

About your dinner party and serving the chocolate souffle for dessert: just how much "last minute TLC" was needed? Do you do all the preparation right then or how much of the prep can you do in advance? I have never (yikes!) made a souffle before and am about to hazard my first!

Pille said...

Joey - parsnip is a rather litte-known vegetable here, so it was an interesting and unusual vegetable to serve:)
My dear bf, K, was in charge of chocolate souffles on Saturday night, where I had prepared the salmon tartlets in advance (just pop into the oven for 5 minutes before serving); as we have a semi-open kitchen/dining room, then I could make the risotto while chatting to the diners.
On Sunday, I made the parsnip soup in the morning (just reheated it before serving). K. made panna cottas in the morning, too. Then couple of hours at my parents place (eating, obviously:). Upon return, I spent almost an hour preparing the ingredients and cooking the Moroccan chicken stew, and boiling rice. At the same time, K. set the table. We've got the system already in place:)

Anonymous said...

Thanks Pille! It's good to have a tag team when coordinating dinners :) My husband is also in charge of certain things, but definitely not chocolate souffle! Impressive! :)

Linda said...

do you know i'm a vegetarian/many days eating vegan AND have NEVER had parsnips!? i'm so making this tonight. Thanks!

Pille said...

Joey - you're welcome:) And I think we're both pretty lucky regarding our husbands/boyfriends:)

Linda - well, it's never too late to discover that humble root!