On the weekend I was over the other side of the river and dropped into Prahran Market because it is the cheapest place that I have found for buying chestnut puree in Melbourne. The reason I needed a tin of puree was that my mum had given me leftover parsnips from the Christmas dinner and yet again I thought of Sophie’s chestnut, parsnip and orange soup.
Although the weather was too warm for such a wintery dish, the soup seemed perfectly festive for this time of year. I also had some of the spiced walnuts leftover from my Christmas salad that seemed jut right as a garnish for the soup.
I didn’t quite follow Sophie’s instructions. She roasted her parsnips before simmering them, but I didn’t fancy turning on the oven in the hot weather. She also used whole cooked chestnuts but I am not sure where to buy these in Melbourne – apart from on street corners and experience has taught me that it is preferable to let someone else peel chestnuts for me. I was a little concerned that the soup would be a bit thin as it cooked, but it did come together to be just the right velvety consistency.
Sophie notes that there is not much that you can do to make the soup unhealthy. But I did use butter instead of olive oil, in the spirit of seasonal indulgence. Then I added more seasoning because I still find chestnut puree a little strangely sweet - I even checked the tin to make sure it wasn't sweetened this time after a comment from Lysy when I last used chestnut puree. Nevertheless, the soup still felt quite healthy and, with a piece of sprouted bread from the market, was a substantial meal.
Health concerns aside, this soup was delicious. The flavours are warm and cosy. It the perfect soup to take a sprinkling of nutty spicy garnish if you do have some spiced walnuts on hand or the time to make some.
Chestnut, parsnip and orange soup
(adapted from Mostly Eating)
1 tbsp butter
1 brown onion, peeled and chopped
4 small/medium parsnips, peeled
½ carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
200g chestnut puree
1 litre vegetable stock
4 tbsp juice from a freshly squeezed orange (about ½ an orange)
Salt or extra stock powder, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
For the topping:
Four tbsp plain yogurt
Zest of half an orange
4 tbsp finely chopped parsley
4 tbsp finely chopped spiced walnuts*
*NB If you don’t have spiced walnuts, you can just add some nutmeg or spices of choice to the yoghurt mixture.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Sauté the onion, parsnips and carrot in for 10-15 minutes over a low heat. They should soften but not brown. Add stock and chestnut puree. Check seasoning. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare topping. Chop parsley and finely grate orange zest. Mix with yoghurt in a small bowl. Finely chop spiced walnuts
When soup has simmered for 20 minutes, check parsnips are cooked. If not, continue to simmer till parsnips are soft. Then puree soup with hand held blender or by other means such as food processor. Add orange juice and black pepper to taste. Thin soup with water or stock if too thick.
To serve, ladle soup into a bowl. Spoon some yoghurt mixture into the bowl and sprinkle with chopped walnuts.
On the stereo:
The BBC Sessions: Belle and Sebastian