This soup is the perfect form of resistance against the bitter coldness of midwinter, it'll both warm you up and warm the cockles of your heart. There's just a hint of spice to provide a little heat, but feel free ramp it up by adding more chillies. Personally I like it nice and spicy, and will sometimes add a few drops of Tabasco sauce just before serving.
The soup starts with a soffrito – onions and garlic cooked softly and gently for about 10 minutes. This gives a platform of sweetness for the rest of the ingredients to stand upon. It pays to fry the parsnips along with the spices in foaming butter at a high temperature before adding any liquid. This will generate some essential caramelisation which adds depth of flavour.
- 50 g unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1 fresh red chilli, chopped
- 900 ml vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
- 2 tbsp desiccated coconut
- 4 tbsp natural yoghurt
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 4 dashes tabasco sauce (optional)
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 300 g parsnips, peeled
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 150 g potatoes, peeled and chopped
- vegetable oil, for cooking
- 4 pinches paprika (optional)
Place a large, heavy-based pan over a medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, add the chopped onion and garlic along with a two-finger-and-thumb pinch of salt. Cook gently for 10 - 15 minutes, until the onions are soft, sticky and sweet.
Chop the parsnips and potatoes into small pieces, no larger than 1 cm across. The smaller the pieces the more flavour you'll get when frying them. Add them to the pan with the onions and add the butter, curry powder, chilli and desiccated coconut. Turn the heat up to high and stir. Cook like this for around 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan with the spoon when the curry powder inevitably begins to stick. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 15 minutes, or until the parsnips and potatoes are fully cooked.
Blend the soup until silky smooth. If it's a little thick then add some more stock. Pour into bowls and garnish with swirl of yoghurt, a sprinkling of paprika and (if using) a few drops of tabasco sauce. Enjoy with some fresh crusty bread.