Roasted Parsnip and Smoked Garlic Soup

Soup

I’ve recently returned to Bristol after a restorative and relaxing break visiting my parents in the countryside of Devon and Cornwall. The silence and peace that being a good twenty minutes from the nearest major road affords was much needed. It was lovely to spend time with family, and in my mind, there is too much talk of Christmas being about stuff, rather than people. That being said, carefully chosen presents are always appreciated. My stocking seemed to mostly contain food and food related items, including, of all things, smoked garlic. It was heavily wrapped in newspaper, so as to stop the pungent aroma permeating everything around it. I’m sure this is the modern, Ottolenghi version of a satsuma.

Garlic

Another memorable part of my Chirstmas was visiting my uncle and his family on Boxing Day. We turned up at 5pm, at which point there had been a good three hours of alcohol consumption already. My Mum and I proceeded to neck back the Prosecco at quite a rate, in a feeble (and futile) effort to catch up. When the general level of inebriation reached its peak, there was a particularly hilarious incident that stemmed from the suggestion of karaoke. It was then decided that we didn’t have a microphone, and so must find the requisite stand-in. This led to my uncle foraging through the salad drawer of the fridge to find suitable phallic-shaped vegetables to use as microphones. This included a parsnip, a carrot, a courgette, and, in a moment of desperation, a Romaine lettuce leaf. These were laid out on a tray for the unwitting karaoke performers to make their selection from. There was “Rocking around the Christmas tree” sung into a parsnip, and my personal favourite, ‘Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” with the help of a long red pepper.

Roasting

Lots of food writers talk about how food can evoke memories. Diana Henry, for example, enthuses about how gooey cow’s milk cheeses take her back to snowy seasons in the Swiss Alps, scraping the cheese off slates with spoons whilst sitting by a roaring fire. The connection between the vegetable karaoke and this soup is slightly more tenuous, but I still had to suppress a chuckle as I was peeling the parsnips. The creaminess of the parsnips works well with the pungent hit of smoked garlic. If you can’t get smoked garlic (find your nearest fancy deli and it should have it), just use regular garlic. I think this recipe sums up my Christmas break rather well: wonderfully foodie stocking presents and parsnip microphones.

Soup 2

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Porridge with Spiced Pear Compote

bowl

The temperature around these parts has suddenly taken a nose-dive. From a pleasant, if a little chilly, seven degrees it has now plummeted to an icy minus three. The dreaded ‘s’ word has been mentioned. When it’s this cold, the only thing that will coax me out of my lovely warm bed at seven in the morning is a bowl of porridge.

montage

I am suffering the onset of my usual autumn/winter cold. It was with a severely blocked nose that I made my first batch of spiced pear compote to go with my morning porridge. Having neglected to read the faint label on the spice jar, I liberally sprinkled in what I assumed, relying purely on my non-existent sense of smell, to be cinnamon. It was in fact chilli powder.

pears

I didn’t discover this, however, until the next morning, when I sat down to tuck into my porridge and compote, only to be proverbially whacked in the face by so much chilli it made my eyes water. Well at least it woke me up. There was something quite pleasing about a slight bit of chilli in amongst the sugary pears and creamy porridge, although maybe not in this quantity.

porridge and spoon

So this was attempt two at pear compote – relying on my much more reliable sense of sight to decipher the contents of the spice cupboard. I’ve included a tiny pinch of chilli powder as an optional ingredient, but feel free to leave it out if you consider it mildly insane.

porridge

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