The velvety texture of a creamy soup is always welcoming, and the unmistakable flavour of parsnips, blended with a hint of tart cooking apple, is very warming. Root crops of all types thrive in fertile East Anglian soil, but parsnips don't reach their peak until after one or two hard frosts.
SERVES 6 - 8 (AS A STARTER)
25 g (1 oz) butter
700 g (1 1/2 lb) parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
1 Bramley cooking apple, cored, peeled and roughly chopped
1.1 litres (2 pints) chicken stock
4 fresh sage leaves or 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) dried sage
150 ml (5 fl oz) fresh single cream
salt and pepper
fresh sage leaves or parsley and croutons, to garnish
1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the parsnips and apple, cover and cook gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Pour in the stock, add the sage and cloves. Bring to the boil, cover then simmer for 30 minutes, until the parsnip is softened.
3. Remove the sage leaves and cloves, leave to cool slightly, then puree in a blender or food processor.
4. Return to the saucepan and reheat gently with the cream. Season to taste. Serve hot, garnished with the sage or parsley and croutons.