This week so far we have listened to high winds howling and bitterly cold rain beating against the windows!! This stormy weather always brings out the same need in me, vast quantities of comfort food! I'd like to think that warming bowls of chunky soup ward off the bad weather and somehow make it all disappear. Let me introduce one of my favourite winter soup recipes, I hope it helps keep the cold out for you too.
This is a really useful soup if you have leftover ham along with some winter vegetables lurking in the fridge. I used what vegetables I had, feel free to substitute as you please. This is only a guide, I think this would work just as well with onions or celeriac instead of the parsnip. I made this soup last year as a means of using up leftover baked ham and we enjoyed it so much that I took note of what I did this year so I could pass it on to you. I prepared the vegetables in advance (keeping the potatoes in water so they don't turn brown) so I could relax with my family, when the appointed time arrived I only needed to spend a short time cooking, before serving up bowls of winter warming goodness.
2tbsp Vegetable oil
3 Cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 Medium carrots (350g), peeled and sliced
2 Medium parsnips (300g), peeled and sliced
2 Sticks of celery, sliced
½ tsp Salt
½ tsp White pepper
600g Waxy potatoes, peeled, quartered and each quarter divided into five (I used Roosters)
1ltr Chicken stock (good quality stock is best)
2 Bay leaves
500g Cooked ham, cut into 2cm dice
1 x 400g Can mixed beans (or any beans of you choice)
1tbsp Dried parsley
Prepare the vegetables, bearing in mind that you want the vegetables to be as evenly sized as possible and also that they will fit nicely on a soup spoon!
Place the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Cook the garlic, carrots, parsnips, celery, salt and pepper until the vegetables are softened. Stir occasionally to prevent the vegetables from sticking. This should take 5-7 minutes. Don't brown the vegetables, especially the garlic, burnt garlic becomes very bitter and will taint the whole soup.
The parsnip will have begin to break up at this point, I like to think that it thicken the soup slightly. Add the potatoes, stirring constantly, cook for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the chicken stock and diced cooked ham, bring to the boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the drained can of mixed beans and simmer for a further 8-10 until or until the vegetables are tender but not falling apart. Garnish with the dried parsley and serve in warm bowls with fresh Brown Soda Bread slathered in real Butter. Winter warming food heaven!!