Here’s a lovely soup recipe that makes the most of delicious fruit and veggies available now here in the UK – and it’s really cheap too, which is always useful for that challenging January credit card bill. I find this soup wonderfully nourishing and comforting, and it makes a lovely lunch with some great bread or crackers and cheese.
It’s very closely based on a recipe from the original Cranks Recipe Book, which is a perennial favourite of mine. I was lucky enough to pick up this hardback copy of the book in a local charity shop recently – my paperback copy from the late eighties was completely falling to pieces, so it was great to replace it with something more substantial. My new copy includes illustrations of the Cranks cafés and shops (first in Carnaby St and later in Marshall St) which pioneered vegetarian and wholefood eating in London in the sixties.
The pictures bring back memories of when I ate at the Marshall St Cranks with my family on an exciting weekend trip to London in the mid-eighties. The café was all rustic brick, wicker and earthenware crockery, which seemed so exotic and cosmopolitan to me! And the food was delicious. I guess because I was already a fledgling foodie, I can remember the delicious vegetable moussaka I ate, accompanied by the most delicious cloudy (cloudy! Imagine that!) apple juice – I am not sure what my more traditionally-minded mum and dad, and extremely hard-to-please brother made of it.
Although the Cranks Recipe book is rather traditional in many ways (no exotic spices for starters), with its focus on healthy, nutrient-rich ingredients and cooking from scratch, it feels very usable and relevant. You can pick up a second-hand paperback copy from Abebooks.com for around £3 – a total bargain, or you can get the trendily reprinted ‘Vegetarian Classic’ version.
Anyway, to the recipe. I have tweaked it a bit, replacing the original dried mixed herbs with dried sage (if you have fresh sage in you garden, even better) because I love parsnip with sage. I’ve also made the suggestion of using chicken stock because I think it brings extra depth of flavour and nutritional value. It goes against the vegetarian values of Cranks, so I am sorry about that – feel free to ignore me and shake a fist at my meat-eating ways. The original recipe calls for whole milk – personally I replace half that with unsweetened almond milk, to add to the nutritional value. If you are vegetarian or vegan then veggie stock and almond milk (or other suitable non-dairy alternative) are definitely great options too.
Parsnip and Apple Soup
- 25g butter
- 1 medium onion
- 2 medium parsnips
- 1 medium cooking apple (I used Belle de Boskoop but a smallish Bramley is good too)
- 500ml chicken stock or veggie stock
- 1/2 tsp dried sage or 1 tsp chopped fresh sage
- 300-500ml of almond milk, cow’s milk, or any similar option (the amount needed depends on how much veg you started out with, and how thick you like your soup!)
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley to sprinkle
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Peel and chop the onion, parsnip and apple (removing the core) into largish chunks (around 2-3cm pieces).
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the veggies and apple, and sautée until the onion is transparent and the parsnip and apple are beginning to soften. You don’t want the fruit and veg to brown, so keep stirring regularly and keep the heat low.
- Add the stock and the sage, bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes until the parsnip and apple are very soft.
- Add about 300ml of milk (or milk substitute, or a combination of the two) and blend the soup (I use a stick blender, if you use a goblet type blender, then you might need to do this in batches).
- Add more milk/milk substitute if the soup is too thick for your taste, reheat (being careful not to boil it), then add seasoning to taste.
- Sprinkle on the parsley before serving.
The soup freezes and reheats very well.