This is a perfect soup for February, as parsnips are at their best during the cold weather. A touch of frost actually makes them even tastier. This luscious soup is sweet, smooth and nourishing. Enjoy with buttered toast or, even better, home-made, heart-shaped cheesy scones.
50g (13/4oz) butter
1 Spanish onion, peeled and chopped
4 large parsnips, peeled and chopped
8 leeks, white parts only, chopped
1 teaspoon of garam masala
500ml (18fl oz) milk
550ml (19fl oz) chicken stock
280ml (10fl oz) double cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
10 rashers of streaky bacon cut into 1cm strips and fried until crisp (optional)
Heat a large pan on a low heat, melt the butter and add all the vegetables and the garam masala. Gently simmer, stirring from time to time, for about 45 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft. Do not allow them to brown, as you want the soup to be as white as possible. Add the milk, chicken stock and double cream to the vegetables and blend. You may need to add a little more liquid, depending on the consistency you prefer. Season to taste and serve piping hot with the crispy bacon placed on top.
My daughter Coco loves making these cheesy delights and cuts ornate shapes with cookie cutters. Best eaten warm with butter, they also freeze brilliantly – if there are any left, of course.
450g (1lb) plain flour, plus 1 tbsp for dusting
4 teaspoons baking powder
150g (51/2oz) chilled butter, cut into cubes
400g (14oz) strong Cheddar cheese, grated
1 teaspoon mustard powder (optional)
150ml ( 1/4 pint) milk
Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas Mark 7. Put the flour, baking powder and butter into a large bowl and rub the butter into the flour with your fingers until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add the grated cheese and mustard powder and mix through. Pour in the milk and stir with your fingers to make a soft dough. Dust a work surface, rolling pin and your hands with flour to stop the dough sticking, and roll so it’s 2cm thick. Using a heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out your scones and put them on a greased baking tray and place in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes.