This is a good, hearty, chunky soup, which also delivers protein. I was told only yesterday that as we age our bodies require more protein and less carbohydrate, and the best protein sources for vegetarians are nuts and beans (cheese in moderation, if you are not vegan). So I'm always attracted to a recipe that uses nuts - especially as we have both hazelnuts and walnuts in the garden.
The recipe suggests an old Mimolette cheese, which I was unable to find quickly. The one I bought was a little more like your average young Edam or a Gouda. (Like the French and their apples, I think that perhaps the Dutch keep all their best cheeses for use at home?) I see that Parmesan is suggested as a Mimolette substitute: a good clue to the qualities of a well-aged Mimolette. I'll search for an old Mimolette next time I make this soup, or substitute the Parmesan if I have no luck, because the young cheese packed no punch.
3 large parsnips
200g well-aged Mimolette/Parmesan
50g crushed hazelnuts
1.5 litres water
120ml crème fraîche
1 vegetable stock cube
salt & pepper
Serves 4-6 people
1. Peel and chop the onions. Peel and grate the potatoes. Peel the parsnips and chop them into a large dice.
2. Grate half of the cheese. Slice the remainder into fine shavings.
3. Lightly brown the onions in the butter, then add the parsnips, potatoes and half of the crushed nuts. Cook, stirring continually, for 5 minutes.
4. Add 1.5 litres of water. Cover the pan and leave to simmer for 30 minutes.
5. Remove the pan from the heat and season to taste, then mix in the grated cheese (reserving the shavings for a garnish) and the crème fraîche.
6. Crumble in the stock cube. (This is the first time I've ever added a stock cube at the end of the recipe, but I reserved judgement and did as I was told!)
7. Heat through gently, then serve garnished with the cheese shavings and a sprinkling of crushed hazelnuts.
Bon Appétit! I'm a bit of a fan of blended soups, since I find that chunky homemade vegetable soup often closely resembles boiled vegetables before they have been drained properly. However, I think this works well, probably due to the fact that the potatoes are grated. And with some good wholemeal bread (and a crunchy red cabbage, apple and carrot salad?), it would be a meal in itself.
Wine? I can't even begin to imagine drinking wine with soup! However, the recommendation here is for a Gaillac white. The Gaillac is in the Garonne region of the south-west of France and the AOC white wines of the area must include at least a proportion of the characteristic vine cultivars of the region, the 'Len de l'el' and 'Maudac'.
Rating? xxxx I'd definitely make it again, since I love root veg soups made with nuts or fruit. Unfortunately I don't think it's a soup that will freeze well and, since I'm often eating on my own, that's important to me. But I'll try it anyway.
That's my last recipe for 2013, but I'll be back in January 2014. Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!