Curried Parsnip and Apple Soup with Parsnip Crisps
This is such a lovely soup. The sweetness of the parsnips is sharpened by the presence of the apple, and the subtle flavour of the spices comes through beautifully.
Begin by heating a small frying pan and dry roasting the coriander, cumin and cardamom seeds – this is to toast them and draw out their flavour. After 2-3 minutes they will change colour and start to jump in the pan. Remove them from the pan and crush them finely with a pestle and mortar. Next, heat the butter and oil in a saucepan until the butter begins to foam, then add the onions and gently soften for about 5 minutes before adding the garlic. Let that cook, along with the onions, for another 2 minutes, then add all the crushed spices, along with the turmeric and ginger, stir and let it all continue to cook gently for a few more minutes while you peel and chop the parsnips into 1 inch (2.5 cm) dice. Add the parsnips to the saucepan, stirring well, then pour in the stock, add some seasoning and let the soup simmer as gently as possible for 1 hour without putting on a lid.
To make the parsnip crisps, peel the parsnip and then slice it into rounds as thinly as you possibly can, using a sharp knife. Now heat the oil in a 10 inch (25.5 cm) frying pan until it is very hot, almost smoking, then fry the parsnip slices in batches until they are golden brown, for about 2-3 minutes (they will not stay flat or colour evenly but will twist into lovely shapes). As they're cooked, remove them with a slotted spoon and spread them out on kitchen paper to drain. Sprinkle lightly with salt. (If you like, you can make these in advance, as they will stay crisp for a couple of hours.)
When the soup has been simmering for an hour, remove it from the heat, then liquidise it if possible. If not, use a food processor and then a sieve – or even just a sieve, squashing the ingredients through using the bowl of a ladle. After the soup has been puréed, return it to the saucepan, taste to check the seasoning, then, when you're ready to serve, re-heat very gently.
While that's happening, peel the apple and, as the soup just reaches simmering point, grate the apple into it. Be careful to let the soup barely simmer for only 3-4 minutes.
Serve in hot soup bowls garnished with the parsnip crisps.