My mother used to make this spicy parsnip soup quite often and I always absolutely loved it. It had been a couple of years since she last made it, so I decided to give it a go, and it was just as delicious as I remembered it being! It’s perfect for this time of year as the days get colder and winter creeps closer.Parsnips are a sweet-flavoured root vegetables which kind of look like cream coloured carrots and are closely related to carrots, fennel, parsley and celery. They are native to Europe and Asia and are available from autumn all the way until spring (although they are said to have a better flavour after the first winter frost converts some of the starch to sugar). Parsnips have been used a vegetables for thousands of years, and before the arrival of cane sugar to Europe, were used as a sweetener. For example, they were a common ingredient in bread in Tudor times. Although there is some difficulty in distinguishing between parsnips and carrots in ancient writing, there is evidence that parsnips were used by the ancient Greeks and Romans.
Parsnips are incredibly versatile, as they can be eaten raw, or cooked in a variety of different ways, such as boiled, roasted or made into chips. High in vitamins and minerals, parsnips are full of antioxidants and fibre, so really healthy! The high level of potassium in parsnips reduces blood pressure and stress on the heart, meaning that they help to reduce the risk of heart disease, whilst the high levels of fibre reduces cholesterol and the chances of developing diabetes.
Although this recipe is called “Spicy Parsnip Soup”, it uses nearly as much swede as parsnip. Swede, or rutabaga in America (based on the Swedish word rotabagge, is also a root vegetable, available from late autumn until spring. A cross between cabbage and turnip, the swede is sometimes called a Swedish turnip, Russian turnip, or yellow turnip. The origins of swede are somewhat debated, however it is widely assumed that it was native to Scandinavia and Russian. It was widely cultivated in England by the 19th century but there is evidence that it was being grown in royal gardens from the 1600s. It was being harvested in Northern American at the beginning of the 19th century. It is known as neeps in Scotland, where on Burns Night it is the traditional accompaniment to haggis. It is popular in many northern areas, however in some countries it is seen as suitable only as food for livestock!
Swede is a round shape with purple-green skin and yellow-orange flesh. Like parsnips, swedes too have many health benefits. They are often used as a substitue for potatoes as they don’t have as many “empty” carbohydrates and contain a range of vitamins and minerals. Again, they are full of fibre and antioxidants. Both parsnips and swede contain low-release energy, leaving you feeling fuller between meals and can therefore be used to aid weight loss.
The spiciness of this soup comes from the garam masala. The amount of garam masala could be altered in accordance to personal taste. I have called it “spicy parsnip soup”, however the 2 teaspoons I use in the recipe don’t make it particularly spicy; rather they just give it a warming flavour.
Spicy Parnsip Soup
- 55ml vegetable oil
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 240g parsnips, peeled and cubed
- 200g swede, peeled and cubed
- 170g potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 3tbsp runny honey
- 6tsp boullion powder
- 1.5 litres water
- 2tsp garam masala
- In a large saucepan gently heat the onion in the oil for 5 minutes
- Add the parsnips, swede and potato and stir to coat them in the oil
- Remove from the heat and stir in the honey
- Add the bouillon powder and stir to coat the vegetables
- Add the water, place back on the heat and bring to the boil
- Simmer until the vegetables are soft, about 25 minutes
- Use a hand blender to liquidise
- Return to the heat, stir in the garam masala, and simmer for 10-15 minutes to thicken