Here’s a version of an out-of-fashion classic called Palestine soup. It’s made, funnily enough, with Jerusalem artichoke – a root vegetable that isn’t an artichoke and has nothing to do with Jerusalem. I never know what to do with those things, but they’re a pretty good match for the sweetness of parsnip in this silky, aromatic concoction.
Ingredients (two decent portions)
350g Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and sliced 1cm thick
1 parsnip, peeled and sliced 1cm thick
1 potato, peeled and sliced 1cm thick
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
4 tsp vegetable stock powder
A handful of shelled hazelnuts
salt and pepper
a chunk of parmesan rind (optional)
The parmesan rind adds a deep savoury note to this dish – it’s like natural monosodium glutamate (aka gourmet powder) with a cheesy aroma. Every time I finish a piece of parmesan, I wrap the rind in greaseproof paper and stick it in the freezer, so there’s a constant supply of it. Of course, parmesan isn’t strictly vegetarian, so leave it out if you’re bothered by that sort of thing.
Heat the butter in a saucepan and sweat the onion until soft and translucent. Add the Jerusalem artichokes, potato, parsnip, stock powder, parmesan rind (if using) and bay leaf. Top the pan up with half water, half milk – just enough to cover the veg – and leave it to simmer for around 25 minutes.
While that’s bubbling away, put the hazelnuts on a baking tray and roast them in the oven at 150C. After about 15 minutes you can remove them and flake off the skins before wrapping them in a tea towel and crushing them with a rolling pin.
Remove the cheese rind and bay leaf before blitzing it to a smooth puree with a stick blender. Thin it out with a little more cold milk, if required, and season with salt and pepper before serving with a generous topping of crushed hazelnuts, a splash of olive oil and a dusting of paprika.