The combination of pulses and root vegetables make delicious soups for the colder months and this thick golden bowlful certainly keeps out the winter chill. The food writer Nigel Slater, who devised the recipe, writes that though this is a winter soup it is also ideal for a cold spring day: a way to use up the last of the winter pulses and a good use for those parsnips hiding in the vegetable rack. It is certainly good for using up parsnips that are slightly past their best or the thin pieces that don’t roast too well!
The recipe comes from Nigel Slater’s column in the Observer Sunday newspaper colour supplement in April 2007 which can also be found online. The other recipe that day was Beetroot Seed Cake, which I also made and have already written about on this site. This soup is tasty and spicy, though for a less hot version use just half a dried chilli pepper, or even less, rather than whole one. Nigel Slater prefers cooking the vegetables in butter rather than oil but I use both. You still get a buttery flavour but the oil helps to prevent the butter from burning. The recipe did not really need too much alteration, although towards the end of the cooking time I put in some fresh coriander, as well as adding some as a garnish to give its distinctive flavour which we love. You can, of course, leave this out if you wish.
Parsnip & Split Pea Soup
2 medium sized onions
a generous knob of butter
1tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2tsp chilli crushed (I used 1 small crushed dried chilli)
a large pinch of ground mace
2tsp ground coriander
125gyellow split peas
1.5 litres water
Fresh coriander to stir through and garnish (optional)
1. Peel and roughly chop the onions. Gently heat the butter and olive oil together in a deep pan. (Nigel Slater prefers butter to oil but I use both as you still get the buttery flavour but the oil helps to prevent it from burning.)
2. Add the onions to the pan and start to cook gently. Next peel and crush the garlic and peel and roughly chop the parsnips, adding both to the pan and mixing well. Cook gently on a medium heat.
3. When they are starting to show colour add the crushed chilli, turmeric powder, ground mace and ground coriander.
4. Add the split peas and water. Season with black pepper. (The salt needs to be added later when the peas start to soften: any earlier and it will toughen their skins.) Simmer gently for around 35 minutes until the peas are soft and can be crushed between your fingers.
5. Add salt to taste. Liquidise until the soup is smooth and thick, return to the pan and gently reheat. Rinse the liquidiser with a very small amount of water adding this to the pan as well.
6. Chop the fresh coriander, reserve a little to garnish and stir through the soup as it reheats.
7. Adjust the seasoning and serve with crusty bread.