Bumper crop

The weather’s alternated between not bad to downright awful over the past couple of weeks. Venturing into the garden for anything other than essential duck and chicken maintainance has had no appeal whatsoever. Despite a strong, cold wind and heavy downpours, I decided that I should brave the elements and check out the veg plot, with a view to having a soup-making day.

I found the ‘Perpetual Spinach’ to be living up to its name with knobs on, more than half a row of beetroot, another half row of fennel and bumper crops of parsnips and carrots. Although I made serious inroads into the spinach, beetroot and parsnip crops, I’ve had to leave the fennel and carrots for another day. Even so, I was quite pleased with myself after making soups of spinach and nutmeg, beetroot and cumin, curried parsnip and my personal favourite, roast parsnip and parmesan, courtesy of ‘The New Covent Garden Food Co. – Book of Soups’….

450g parsnips, cut into lengths

Ready for soup!

50g grated parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons olive oil

15g butter

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon plain flour

1.35 litres chicken stock

salt and pepper

4 tablespoons double cream

Pre-heat oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6

Simmer parsnips in salted water for 3 minutes. Drain and toss in half the parmesan. Put oil in roasting tin and heat in oven for 3-4 mins. Put parsnips in roasting tin with the butter and bake for 45 mins, basting occasionally. Drain any excess oil into large saucepan and cook onion gently until soft, but not coloured. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute, add stock and bring to boil stirring continuously. Add parsnips and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

Puree soup with remaining parmesan. Stir in cream, taste for seasoning, re-heat and serve, garnished with freshly ground black pepper.

We can see half of the veg plot through the dining room window and I’ve had my eye on a particularly puny cauliflower for some time. I’d assumed that all the caulis were similarly unimpressive until today, when I discovered that some could in fact be labelled as ‘Colossal Caulis’! They’re all in lovely condition too, so I snapped some of the large leaves on each plant and bent them over the curds in an effort to protect them from such inclement weather conditions. Guess what’s on the menu for dinner this evening?…

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