Local Heart, Global Soul

February 3, 2011

Spicy Parsnip and Carrot Soup… Easy Step-by-Step WONDERFUL!

Filed under: FOOD — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In a follow-up to yesterday’s post,  where I made Kung Pao Chicken for our lunch meeting guests, I also had a soup that preceded the main course.
This soup has become a staple winter favourite in our house for the last three years, and is a favourite not least because it has been part of my adventures with parsnip  https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2011/01/07/new-227/.

This is also THE soup that prompted “I-think-I-have-always-hated-soup”  Himself to rethink his views.

As a member of the ex-Recipezaar website (now known as Food.Com) I found this recipe posted by member “Patchwork-Dragon”    http://www.food.com/recipe/spicy-parsnip-and-carrot-soup-203270 and it has been a feature at family buffet meals, entertaining  with friends as well as being a winter treat on our dinner table.

If you make this recipe, I’m sure she would be delighted if you could please be so kind as to leave her a review.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Over the years I have to confess to making a few personal changes: here are my notes:

– I have substituted red (or green) curry paste for the curry powder and we all prefer the deeper, more subtle complex flavours that it brings to the recipe.Add it carefully, starting with a small teaspoon and you will find a wonderful tangy (but not too fiery) heat in the aftertaste… fear not ! even fussy guests have come back for seconds. Experiment a little and increase to add more heat if you prefer. Personally we like spicy so use a heaped teaspoon of  curry paste.

– using curry powder instead of curry paste gives quite a different flavour… also, I found that adding it when cooking the veggies or at the end also changes the flavour.  I now prefer to use curry paste and to add it only at the blender stage, after the vegetables are totally cooked. The flavours stay more “pure” we think.

– I have added several peeled and diced potatoes to the recipe as they are a natural thickener and  we love this soup thick!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

– After running out of milk on time,  I now skip the milk in the recipe as we found we liked it better without.

– I add plenty of freshly ground pepper, some whole bayleaf, but no salt. (Shhhhh ….No-one I’ve served it to knows this and nobody has missed it yet!)

– Cooking the vegetables in the olive oil before adding any other liquid gives amazing flavour.. skipping this step does make a difference to the result! ( I sometimes add a tablespoon of butter to the olive oil for a little extra yum factor)

I have given the recipe per the original and added my extras as “optional”

1 onion
450g parsnips (1 lb)
225g carrots  (1/2 lb)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon curry powder
350 ml vegetable stock
300 ml skim milk
salt and pepper

1 small teaspoon Green (or Red) curry paste (or to taste)  (optional)

3 potatoes, peeled and diced ( cook with carrot and parsnip) (optional)

2 bayleaf ( cook with vegetables but remove before blending!) (optional)

Peel and finely chop the onion. Peel and cut parsnips and carrots into evenly sized pieces.
Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the vegetables, coat with oil,and cook for a few minutes until they start to soften. Add the curry powder and cook, stirring, for a minute.
Stir in the stock and milk. Season with salt and pepper.
Bring to the boil then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes until vegetables are soft.
Allow to cool a little, and then puree in a blender or food processor until smooth. If it’s too thick for your liking add more stock.


(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This is when I like to add the curry paste…


(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It’s the consistancy of mashed potato so I add some water to thin it….


(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I took these photos after it came out of the fridge and before heating it in the crock-pot later, so it looks thicker now than it  ended up being when we served it. ( and the very top photo in this post is of an earlier batch, but still the same soup)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Reheat gently to serve.

…and Enjoy!

January 19, 2011

Lazy, Easy, Divine …Mash Never Tasted THIS Good!!!

Filed under: FOOD — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Who doesn’t like easy cooking? Who doesn’t like veggies that the kids and fussy eaters actually like?  What’s not to like about any recipe that combines the two?

Like many Kiwi kids I grew up with this recipe and I adore it as much now as I did then.

It’s a true “throw together” and super super simple.

Parsnip and Carrot Mash.


Roughly equal quantities of fresh carrots and parsnip

Butter (optional)

Salt and pepper (to taste)


Clean, peel and dice your carrots and parsnips. The exact size of the dice doesn’t matter as long as it’s not too small and both are roughly equal size.

Boil in salted water  for 15-20 minutes or until cooked.

Drain off the water and mash with a hand masher (I prefer not to use a hand blender as this quickly results in a  very soupy slop)

Add a dot of butter to your mash if you like and season with pepper to taste.

Hog the whole lot for yourself or reluctantly share.


(if you are hard pushed for time and feeling very lazy organized, then add diced potato the same size as the rest, mash all three together)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 7, 2011

“Pastinaak” and Dutch-Irish Parsnip Relations…

Filed under: The Hague,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Winter… Comfort food.

Parsnips, …that  lesser known and under-loved vegetable.

My post with a recipe for roast vegetables a few days ago got me thinking about my “Dutch parsnip experience”.

Parsnips have been a  New Zealand perennial family favourite for generations.  Kids love them, they are a staple veggie and if you have a crowd coming over for dinner then it’s a safe and popular option.

Parsnips are called “pastinaak” in Dutch. pronounced ” Pas-te-nark” or “Pas-te-nark-a“.

When I came here eighteen years ago I swiftly began looking out for this, my favourite vegetable, but to my astonishment, not only could I not find it, but  people just gave me confused looks and admitted that they had never heard of it.

I tried all the regular supermarkets, and the Haagse Markt  to no avail. My heart sank. Times passed, I met Himself and we married. Himself loves Irish Literature. At that time we were both on very low wages so a trip to Ireland was out of the question until we spied an ultra-low package airfare that we could afford. That’s how we came to be Youth Hosteling around the Republic of Ireland.

Walking along Galway’s streets, it didn’t take me long to stumble upon a greengrocer’s shop, which is where Himself was treated to the sight of his new wife in a serious state of delight and excitement as I babbled my greatest pleasure at my discovery… a very large box of parsnips parked outside the shop window, next to other boxes of carrots, onions etc.

I quickly discovered that my delirious ramblings of “ Sweetie, LOOK, I found PARSNIP!!!!!” were being met with a very blank look indeed.

Ok… fair enough.. I tried again, and translated it  this time into Dutch:  “pastinaak”. His face told me that he was far from impressed.  “Oh.  Um….What do you want that for ?” he asked. “To eat!” I replied, surprised.

To eat?!!!.. but you can’t… pastinaak is cattle-food!” he said, with a disgusted look on his face. He was completely serious.  Apparently, historically parsnips were only grown in The Netherlands as cattle-feed.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I swiftly bought a bag of parsnips and that evening in the Galway Youth Hostel Himself had his first ever taste of parsnip and was promptly hooked. We bought second-hand books and stuffed ourselves on parsnips in youth hostel kitchens all over Ireland.  Brilliant trip.

It was almost ten years later when Himself discovered parsnips in a Dutch “Reform Winkel”  which is a sort of Health food shop.

Most Reform Winkels  have a selection organic grains and creams, soaps,  vitamins and herbs, but comparatively few of them have fresh (organic) vegetables as well.  Himself  recognised them, winced at the price but sucked it in and bought some.

I winced at the price too, but we savored every single bite and looked sadly at our empty plates. It was over too soon. Parsnip became our “treat” meal  a few times every winter. It wasn’t cheap, but boy was it worth it.

Suddenly,  about three years ago I was walking  down a street and passed a small booth that housed a greengrocer and was amazed to see parsnip on display. I stopped in my tracks…  and asked the price. As I expected,  it wasn’t cheap, but … these parsnips were also far bigger than those on offer at the Reform Winkel.

My taste-buds twisted my arm and I bought some. We are these days better off financially, don’t drink excessively, smoke or gamble so the purchase of  parsnip is fast becoming our guilty vice.

Last month, for the very first time, Himself spied parsnip in a supermarket. No prizes for guessing: they aren’t cheap, but they are a decent size and  fractionally cheaper than the greengrocer on the street. In the last fortnight we are probably this supermarket’s best customer for parsnip. Both of us are delighted that slowly but surely, parsnip is becoming more mainstream in The Netherlands.

We have also been doing our part to educate everyone we know about the delights of parsnip. We have made parsnip converts of our Dutch family and we are slowly but surely converting everyone else we know. I’ve even been guilty of explaining what it is and giving out recipes to fellow shopper (strangers) at the little greengrocers on the street.

My cunning plan is to try and make parsnip a mainstream vegetable here, and for it to slowly but surely become cheaper, thus we too can have it more often.

Our  plan, although alas small scale and early days,  appears to be working…

Slowly but surely everyone is falling under the spell once they discover the new and wonderful taste of parsnip.

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