I dearly love thick and hearty soups, especially around this time of year when the winter raises its ugly eyebrows far too often for my liking. But the more I cook, the less attractive soups become - they're not really a challenge to make, they rarely have a wow factor and they are boring to photograph... or so I thought.
While planning a few caterings I have coming up, I was browsing my cookbooks and clippings in the search of finger food that doesn't need much assembly on the spot - and also for seasonal things... it's easy to utilise tomatoes and other summer vegetables, but you rarely see root veggies at a fancy dinner party! Then I stumbled upon a beautifully presented page I must have ripped out of a Waitrose Seasons magazine last year - the recipe was dead simple: heat up some Waitrose parsnip & honey soup (chiller cabinet), pour into shot glasses and serve with parsnip crisps.
Well, I decided to make my own, of course, soup is so easy to make and home-made wins over tetra-bricked any time! If you can't be bothered to make your own sweet potato crisps, I can reveal that I nicked the idea of M&S where they sell them ready-made...
Parnisp & honey soup shots with spicy sweet potato crisp
(yields ca. 24 shots or serves 4 as a starter)
3 medium sized parsnips (ca. 500 g)
1 clove garlic (crushed)
30 g butter
1 tbsp honey
500 ml vegetable stock
500 ml water
juice of ½ lime
For the sweet potato crisps:
1 sweet potato (ca. 20 x 7 cm)
oil for frying
salt, cayenne pepper
Thoroughly wash the sweet potato, halve it, then cut it into very thin, long strips, using a potato peeler or mandolin. Heat the oil in a deep-fryer or a deep pan, cook the sweet potato in batches, taking care not to burn them.
Let them drain and crisp up on paper towels, sprinkling them with salt and cayenne pepper while still hot. Keep in a cool, dry (!) place until ready to serve.
Peel the parsnips and cut into 3 cm dice. Melt the butter in a heavy-based pan, add the garlic and parsnips and fry for about 10 minutes until starting to brown. Add the honey and the boiling stock, continue to cook for another 10 minutes or until tender.
Purée thouroughly using a hand-held blender, then add the water. If you think the soup is still too thick, add more water to achieve the required consistency. If serving in shot-glassed, it should be slightly thinner than in a soup bowl, to make it easy to drink.
Season generously with salt and white pepper, then add the lime juice.
Pour into shot glasses and top with a few crisps each - serve immediately to prevent the crisps from going soggy.