So our Indian Summer has decided to pass on 2015 and we’re fast approaching shorter days and woolly jumpers. On the upside it is an incredible time of year for Irish produce that can quickly be transformed into a satisfying and comforting bowl of hot, homemade soup.
I recently rediscovered how amazing the humble bowl of soup could be thanks to Neven Maguire’s delicious Chestnut, Mushroom and Bacon soup – incredible! It was so good that the temptation to do a “Nigella” and sneak down in the middle of the night to eat leftovers straight from the fridge was almost too much to bear.
Soups are the perfect “fast food” and great for kids or can be elevated to dinner party status with some grown up garnish. Below are my top tips for the perfect soup:
While nothing compares to a homemade stock, very few of us have the time these days. There are some great store bought alternatives but it’s best to choose a low salt version like Kallo or homemade stock from Fallon & Byrne. Both are packed full of flavour but have a low salt content which allows you to season to your taste.
Think outside the vegetable box
September is an amazing time for Irish produce but don’t limit yourself to vegetables. For example, Granny Smith apples are amazing with parsnips. My curried parsnip recipe below is a huge hit with kids as it appeals to their sweeter tooth and can be served with pan seared scallops for a special occasion treat. Lentils, barley, noodles and pasta are also fantastic in more rustic, chunky soups.
Grown up garnish
Cheese can be fantastic in soups and we are spoiled for choice in Ireland with fantastic producers. I also add lots of fresh herbs and chillis to add amazing flavour and warmth to soups. I love to drizzle a flavoured oil or vinegar on to the soup just before serving for added depth of flavour. My favourite oils are Extra Virgin Olive oil, Truffle oil, Chilli oil and Porcini oil. Balsamic vinegar or Raspberry vinegars work really well in beetroot or tomato based soups – just a few drops though!
Curried Parsnip and Apple Soup
– oil for frying – Rapeseed or Olive oil
– 4-5 medium parsnips peeled & chopped
– 1 large onion peeled & chopped
– 3 cloves of garlic
– 1 litre of veg or chicken stock
– 1 medium potato peeled & chopped
– 1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled & chopped
– 1 tsp mild curry powder
– 1 tsp ground coriander
– 1tsp cumin
– salt & pepper to season
– cream to finish
1. Heat pan and add oil, onions, garlic and spices and cook for approx. 5 minutes on medium heat.
2. Add all remaining ingredients including stock, stir well and bring to the boil.
3. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 mins or until parsnips and potatoes can be mashed with little effort.
4. Blend the soup and season with salt and pepper to taste, add cream for a rich finish.
5. Serve with no garnish for kids or a simple lunch. For more formal occasions add a pan seared scallop and some parsnip crisps to the soup just before serving.
Masterchef Ireland 2014 finalist Edel Byrne is a coffee lover and foodie with 15 years’ industry experience who brings her passion for food to her current role as head of corporate catering at wholefood specialist KC Peaches.
Edel’s Masterchef highlights include cooking in two of the world’s top 100 restaurants and winning high praise from the judges (and from fans of the show who still stop her on the street) for her uovo in raviolo pasta dish.