In Hungary we say ‘it has become my blood’ after a great meal or drink. It means the food has immediately invigorated us and brought us back to life. Having had a bad cold all week, that it exactly how I felt after a bowl of this soup.
I had no plans to make soup but I had too many carrots and parsnips and everybody knows making soup is a great way to use up surplus vegetables. Plus I already mentioned that pesky cold, so I knew a few bowls of a nourishing soup would do us good. Without further ado, I hauled out one of our biggest pots and got to work. After about twenty minutes of peeling and chopping, the prep work was done, and I was ready to begin my kitchen magic.
But before I continue, there is something I would like to share with you that I think made this soup extra special. A few days before, I had made a batch of clarified butter, or ghee, for the first time. Homemade ghee has a sweet, almost vanilla-y scent while being pretty neutral in flavour, and it can also take some heat. It is perfect if you are after some buttery deliciousness without the smell of burning fat. So I sautéed the finely chopped leeks, celery, garlic and ginger in plenty of this melted goodness, bringing out the depth and sweetness of the their flavours and adding some creaminess to the overall texture.
After that, I added the chopped parsnips and carrots and threw in a couple of cubes of good vegetable stock. Homemade chicken or vegetable stock would be even better if you have some. I used 50/50 ratio of carrots and parsnips to get the right amount of sweetness for my taste. When the vegetables were almost ready I poured in half a can of coconut milk, just enough for a bit of creaminess without the explicit coconut flavour. I also added the juice of half a lemon which was essential for a perfectly balanced flavour.
I finished the soup by blending it with a stick blender but not before I threw in a small bunch of lemon verbena leaves. I bought a plant at my local Farmers’ Market and I just love it. It is similar to lemon grass, really good in soups and curries, and I just had a mug of camomile tea with some crushed lemon verbena leaves, ginger, and honey, so I think my lingering cold is almost the thing of the past.
The soup was a hit with the kids as well which is always a huge bonus. They asked for not one but two extra helpings! We had it the next day too and I froze a batch for when we need another bowl of sunshine in our bellies.
I have learnt that toppings can make a big difference in a meal, and it is also a great way to bring a bit of variety when you are eating the same thing two or three times in a row. So after trying this soup with toasted almonds, I served it with garlicky kale crisps and toasted seeds which took this soup to a whole new level. I think next time we will try it with sautéed mushrooms to give the soup some extra body.
So, the recipe! It will serve about four but feel free to double the amount for extra servings.
- 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 4 parsnips, peeled and chopped
- 1 leek, finely sliced
- 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
- 1 inch of ginger, peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
- 2 tbsp. ghee (feel free to use any other fat if you prefer)
- 2 tbsp. coconut milk
- juice of half a small lemon
- small bunch of lemon verbena leaves (optional)
- Vegetable or chicken stock
- Salt, pepper
- Melt the ghee and sauté the finely chopped leeks, celery, garlic and ginger.
- Add the carrots and parsnips, top up with enough water to cover plus 2 inches. You can always add some more water in the end to get the desired consistency.
- Add the stock cube. If you have liquid stock add it with the water.
- Cook until the vegetables are soft.
- Add the lemon juice, coconut milk, season with salt and pepper to your taste.
- Add some lemon verbena leaves and blend until smooth using a stick blender.
- Serve topped with toasted almonds, seeds, or anything you fancy.