winter warming pea and parsnip soup with bacon

pea and parsnip soup
I have mentioned before, that while I adore parsnips, I am not always convinced by parsnip soups awash with curry spices, although Nigel Slater's spicy parsnip soup is one of my absolute favourites. I was on a mission to create a parsnip soup recipe that didn't include the usual suspects.

Did you know that peas and parsnips are kissing cousins in the world of flavour compounds? No me neither. But it turns out that they both contain one of those completely unpronounceable compounds, which accounts for their affinity with each other. (OK, its 3-sec-butyl-2-methoxypyrazine - aren't you glad you asked!)

So I made a soup with some parsnips and peas, but it turned out that they were just a little too closely related and the soup didn't taste quite right; a little bit too woody and musty if I'm honest. On a happier note, I loved the colour. It was that pe
rfect pea green colour so beloved of 1950s abstract textile designers such as Lucienne Day and Jacqueline Groag!

But the problem of taste was easily solved with a splash of sherry vinegar and a pinch of sugar, all topped off with some crisp chunks of bacon. It definitely needed the savoury, salty hit of bacon. The end result was a thick and hearty soup, with a sweet almost nutmeg flavour. A perfect stick-to-your ribs lunch with big hunks of freshly baked bread.

Serves 4
Skill level: Easy

olive oil
1 x English onion, roughly chopped
3 x medium parsnips, peeled and chopped
1-2 x garlic cloves, finely chopped
750ml good quality chicken or vegetable stock
a splash of sherry vinegar
a pinch of sugar
500g frozen peas
salt and freshly ground black pepper
100ml milk or single cream (optional)
thick cut bacon, cubed and fried until crisp

  1. Melt a tablespoon of oil in a large heavy-based saucepan, together with a knob of butter over a moderate heat.
  2. Add the onions, with a little salt (to draw out the liquid) and cook gently for at least 10 minutes, until the onions have softened, but not coloured.
  3. Add the garlic and parsnips, and continue to cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Add the stock, a splash of sherry vinegar and a pinch of sugar, bring to the boil and then simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Add the frozen peas and simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Set aside and leave to cool before blending. (Do not try to blend when hot, as this can be dangerous, particularly if using a jug blender. A combination of hot soup, a build-up of steam and vibration, can cause the hot liquid to explode out of the blender. Safer to let it cool a little!)
  7. Blend to a thick puree.
  8. Add the milk or cream if you prefer a thinner soup, then check the seasoning.
  9. Reheat slowly and serve topped with the crisp fried cubes of bacon, and fresh bread for dunking.


  • Deep fry the skins for tasty crisps to dip into your soup!


All That I'm Eating said...

Mmmmm interesting to mix the parsnip with peas, sounds great!

Anonymous said...

This looks gorgeous. But I think you're right about needing the ham or bacon. Maybe less parsnips to pea ratio?