One seasonal staple that I really look forward to with some warm bread is parsnip soup, which has a surprising number of variations. Our parsnips are mammoth again this year – one weighed in at almost 2kg – but like most soups this one freezes really well and is a great standby (so long as you remember to leave it out to thaw). It’s fragrant, filling, and warming rather than spicy.
Fry all the vegetables together in a little butter or oil for 4 or 5 minutes, so that they are soft but not browned, then add the spices and flour and cook for a further five minutes. Pour in the hot stock, stirring, and then simmer for about 20 minutes or until tender. Make sure you have used enough stock to just cover the vegetables – remember you can always add more later if it’s looking too thick. Add the milk, then remove from the heat and blend until smooth (or force through a sieve).
A little cooked rice will really give the soup some additional body. If you do this, you’ll need to heat the soup through again afterwards before serving with the garnish of your choice; a swirl of cream, croutons, crisped bacon, grated cheese, chopped parsley… whatever takes your fancy.