Pear and parsnip soup.
Pear and parsnip soup. 123rf

Soup on the menu, now there's a pars-nip in the air

Cooler nights make me think of soup; despite the fact that there are any number of chilled varieties available, I never crave it when it's beach weather.

Today's recipe is pear and parsnip soup; both main ingredients are sweet in their own way. Even if you aren't a huge fan of parsnips, I think you'll like this dish as neither flavour dominates.

Pears and parsnips are both in season, so the recipe is reasonably economical, although I am never sure why parsnips are so much more expensive than carrots (given that they both grow under identical conditions). You can even sneak an over-ripe pear into this recipe without compromising on flavour or quality. This recipe is also suitable for vegans if you substitute olive oil for the butter and omit the cream.


SERVES: 4, or 6 as a starter


4 large ripe pears; 4 small to medium parsnips; 2 tbsp butter or olive oil; 1 litre vegetable or chicken stock, preferably home-made; salt and pepper, to taste (see note); 4 tbsp thick cream (optional); 60g blue vein cheese (optional); 1 cup croutons, to serve; 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, to serve


NOTE: If you use bought stock, taste before adding any seasoning. Commercial stock is often high in salt - try to avoid the small tubs of concentrated stock.

Peel pears and parsnips and cut into large chunks.

Heat butter or oil gently in a large saucepan and add pears and parsnips. Reduce heat and saute for 15 minutes until golden brown and fragrant.

Add stock and bring to the boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Puree batches in a blender or food processor until smooth. Return to saucepan and reheat. Season to taste. Pour into bowls and stir in a dollop of cream, if desired, or crumble blue cheese into the centre of the bowls.

Serve immediately sprinkled with croutons and chopped parsley, or with chunks of good crusty sourdough or ciabatta on the side.