Monday, 1 February 2010

Underground Vegetable Resistance

Yes. Another soup. But where I live, it minus 20 degrees. And soup is what we're having.

It has taken a while but I've finally converted my mother-in-law to no longer be a parsnip hater. It wasn't easy but this recipe did the trick. She discovered that she liked parsnips.

Over the past few years, I have learned to value this lesser known root vegetable. It is far more versatile than people give this under-appreciated, underground veggie credit for. On top of this, parsnips are higher in minerals and vitamins than the famous cousin and bully, the carrot (which everybody eats). Parsnips have their own unique sweet taste and it is usually inexpensive. So why don't more people buy it? Carrots are to blame.

Parsnips apparently grow best in temperate regions because their sugar content increases after a little frost. Having said that, the taste of the parsnip, like the potato, is dramatically affected by the climate. So, don't buy them in the spring or summer when they're out of season.

Like the orange-coloured relative, parsnips can be cooked any number of ways: roasted, sauteed, deep-fried, boiled. It can be eaten raw but it is not entirely recommended. Unlike carrots which many people do eat raw. However, if you eat your carrots for the beta carotene, eating it raw is a waste of time.

Anyways, enough of that. All I'm trying to say is, parsnips taste good. And they're cheap. And they're healthy. And they're easy too cook. And anytime you see a carrot recipe, think about substituting it and see if it works. Which it won't all the time so you'll have to use your culinary judgment.

Parsnip and Ginger Soup

1 Large Cooking Onion, peeled and cut into chunks
2 Cloves of Garlic, crushed
Small Chunk of Fresh Ginger (how much is a small chunk? About a tablespoon size)
Pinch of Clove
8 - 10 Parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
Drizzle of Oil
Drizzle of Liquid Honey
2 L Vegetable Stock
250 ml Orange Juice
Salt and Pepper to Taste

In a soup pot, heat oil. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes. Add cloves and cloves of garlic (that's the spice and your two cloves of garlic, not a ton of garlic). Cook for 2 more minutes. Add parsnips and ginger and stir until parsnips are coated in fat. Add extra oil if necessary. Cook for another 5 minutes. Add vegetable stock and orange juice and bring to a boil. Liquify using an immersion blender. Season to taste with honey and salt and pepper.

Add desired garnish. Cream, thyme or even Candied Parsnips.

Serves 8.

A Humble Chef's tip: if the parsnips are really skinny, don't bother peeling them. Soak thoroughly and let air dry before using them.

Variation: this is already a variation on the classic Carrot Ginger Soup, which goes to show how easy it is to change it up.

This next recipe is very tricky. Be sure to measure accurately and follow the instructions carefully or the recipe won't work.

Candied Parsnips

Dab of Butter
Handful of Brown Sugar
Drizzle of Maple Syrup
Pinch of Salt
Splash of Rum
1 Large Parsnips, peeled and thinly sliced

Put everything in a pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook until parsnips are cooked. About 8 minutes.


A Humble Chef's tip: don't overcook the parsnips.

Variation: change up the quantities of ingredients.

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