Its Parsnip Time! May 2011

Those snowy white carrots that are so versatile are high on my list for winter eating. Think of the possibilities! That creamy woody flavor that works so well in soups, roasted up, into warm salads, pureed and added to other mashy delights. I'm on a parsnip appreciation campaign to make other feel the same as I do about this wonder veg.

Archeological evidence places the humble parsnip rather way back making an appearance at dinner tables through our Eurasia. A native of the area, they were lumped together under the turnip umbrella which is a shame as I don't feel the same about turnips at all. The Romans, who believed the beautiful parsnip to be an aphrodisiac, bought parsnip with them while they raped and pillaged their way across Europe and found that the  further North they moved the larger the parsnip grew.
The need frost to develop as well as sandy, loamy soils so autumn they begin to come into their own right through winter as long as the soil doesnt freeze completely.The British were taken enough with them that they took them to America when they settled but the old potato over took the parsnip in versatility for those who just cant think outside the square. They are also higher in the good stuff than carrots but while than can be enjoyed raw, Im not so keen on them that way to be honest.

I could eat parsnip with just about anything although I have yet to match it with Asian dishes. I'll keep working not hat one though as you never can tell. So Im about roasting them simply with sea salt, heaps of freshly cracked black pepper and a little oil to get them nice and brown and ever so cripsy at the ends.

The addition of some cumin seeds does not go astray at all given they have a profile that is somewhat spicy anyway. I recently read them as being referred to as having a cardamom tang-If I squint a little i can taste that as they do have a licorice tone that is both alluring and warming. Due to this little romance it has going with spices, it happily can adjust itself to both traditional dishes through to some of the more crazed creations that you may be able to come up with.A good mash is enhanced wonderfully with a dose of parsnip puree mixed through.

Give it a whirl!

My favorite Creamy Parsnip Autumn Soup

1 kg parsnips, peeled and cut roughly into chunks
2 white onions, peeled and roughly chopped
600ml chicken stock -you can use vegetable stock also
2 teaspoons cumin-freshly ground
200ml cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook off the onions till softened in a little butter.
Add the ground cumin and parsnips and mix well before adding the chicken stock.
Place a lid on the pot and allow to simmer for a good 45 mins.
Remove the lid and allow to reduce a little.
Using a stick blender or food processor, whizz the soup to a smooth consistency.
Add the cream and allow to come back to a low simmer.
Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
You may wish to add a touch more spice.
I like to add some freshly toasted cumin seeds on top for garnish.

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