A class act from the past


PARSNIPPY PARIDISE Turmeric lends a beautiful colour to parsnip soup, while apple lends an exquisite sweetness. 

The Cabots

Nowadays we will often start an Asian meal out with Wonton soup, a delicious standard of Chinese cuisine, a clear broth made with Asian equivalent of ravioli or tortellini. In today’s world there is nothing better than mixing up the flavours in modern settings.
Yet nothing can beat the flavours of the old reliables when it comes to winter soups. Cooking for my aunt and cousins in Belgrade this Christmas day I had shopped the previous day looking for parsnips to roast and combine with a bag of frozen chestnuts. The shop was out of parsnips, but I spied some fresh celeriac, that ugly looking root vegetable, that did the job. A roasted nuttiness to combine with the chestnuts, blended with a dash of milk, and using the water from the potatoes and brussel sprouts.
Christmas dinner went down a treat with Serbian Lamb and Turkey cooked Irish style! For dessert we were treated to a Yugoslav delicacy of layered chocolate cake combined baked layers of meringue and smooth gooey chocolate! More on that later…

Curried parsnip and apple soup
Warm parsnips are warming winter food, good for the soul and the tummy. The apple flavour sharpens the sweetness of parsnips. Here is a classic combination from the 1970s for this side of the world to warm hearts and minds.

What you need

  • 700g parsnips, peeled and diced into 2.5 cm cubes
  • 40g butter
  • 2 med onions chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 tbsp groundnut oil
  • 1.2 ltrs your favourite stock
  • 1 medium apple (Bramley or similar)
  • 1 large tsp coriander and cumin seeds each
  • 6 cardamon pods (seeds only)
  • 1 large tsp turmeric
  • 1 large tsp powdered ginger
  • Seasoning

What you do
In a heavy-bottomed pan and medium heat dry-roast the cumin and coriander seeds. After two or three minutes they will start to jump around and change colour. Remove them and crush them finely with pestle and mortar. This is a lovely way of bringing out the flavours and intermingling a background palette of flavours to the soup.
Heat the butter and oil in a saucepan until it starts to foam, add chopped onion and softer for four to five minutes. Then add garlic for another two minutes, combine crushed spices, along with ginger and turmeric. Stir well for two minutes, add diced parsnip, combine and coat. Add your stock, bring to a simmer, season and keep simmering for an hour with no lid.
After this blend the soup, checking the seasoning. Now peel and grate the apple, add it to the soup, bring to a simmer again for just two minutes.
Serve in bowls with crusty or warm breads.

Parsnip crisps
This lovely accompaniment can be an excellent serving companion to this soup or most winter starters.
Peel one medium parsnip and slice into rounds as thin as possible. Heat a frying pan very hot with groundnut oil till almost smoking. Fry the parsnips rounds in batched till golden brown – they will end up twisting funny shapes in about two to three minutes. Remove with a slatted spoon and dry on kitchen paper.
Sprinkle with salt and serve. A delicious add on!

— Redmond

The Cabot family live and work in Lanmore, outside Westport. Fresh, seasonal foods are their passion, from country markets to growing, making and selling. They love cooking and eating at the kitchen table, while Redmond and Sandra are kept on their toes with children Penny and Louis. Here they share their favourite recipes.