Text and recipe by Sophie Athanasiadis
As an expat living in Greece, there are always things we miss from home… and any expat will tell you that the things we miss most (apart from our families), are foods. This is why, whenever someone discovers something from home being sold here, the word spreads like wildfire through the English-speaking community. Having said that, not everyone misses the same things… people either love or hate Marmite, peppermint Aeros, Birds custard etc. There is one thing, though, that has caused everyone I’ve come across, to gasp, “What? Where can I get them?” …….. parsnips!
Parsnips (Pastinaca sativa) look like a large white carrot and belong to the same family of root vegetables. They need frost in order for the root to develop properly so are generally found in northern European countries. They are usually roasted in the oven as an accompaniment to the classic Sunday lunch, or made into soup….. the kind of soup that makes you feel like being snuggled up on the sofa next to a blazing log fire, wearing your most comfortable clothes and cashmere socks, while outside thick snow lies in drifts.….- in other words, as though you’re starring in any Richard Curtis film (Love Actually, Bridget Jones’ Diary) with its over-sentimental, but admittedly, very seductive picture of a classic winter afternoon in an English village. I must say, though….it’s pretty good eaten on a chilly Athenian afternoon too….
Ingredients (serve 6-8)
2 carrots peeled and roughly sliced
2 sticks of celery cleaned and sliced
2 medium onions peeled and roughly chopped
800g parsnips peeled and roughly chopped
a thumb-sized piece of fresh root ginger peeled and roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic peeled and sliced
2 tbsp curry powder
2 tbsp olive oil
1.8 litres chicken or vegetable stock
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 sprigs of fresh coriander
fresh cream to taste
Preparing the soup: Put a large pan on a medium heat and add 2tbsp of olive oil. Add all your chopped and sliced ingredients and mix together with a wooden spoon. Add the curry powder and stir in.
Cook for around 10 minutes with the lid askew, until the carrots have softened but are still holding their shape, and the onion is lightly golden. Add stock to the vegetables. Give the soup a good stir and bring to the boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on. Pick the coriander leaves and discard the stalks. Season with salt and pepper.
Using a hand-blender or liquidiser, pulse the soup until smooth.
Serving:Divide between your serving bowls and sprinkle over the coriander leaves. Drizzle some cream on top, to taste.
Note: Where you can find parsnips in Athens? Well, you have to check the well informed greengrocers in certain areas i.e. the greengrocer opposite the AB on Pentelis avenue at Vrilissia, the ones in Filothei, Psychiko and Kefalari, the Green Farm in Erithrea, the Prasino on Tatoiou. You can also find parsnips in the grocery section of AB Psychiko, Filothei, Halandri and Kifissia.