Sunday, July 15, 2012

Parsnip, cheddar and dill soup

In my early twenties I thought I wanted to be an academic when I grew up. I studied philosophy at graduate school at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, USA. Two years into the five year program I came back to Australia for a break and never went back. To this day, the most enduring memories I have of Ithaca and Cornell are not of Descartes et al but of food - cooking fresh pasta with my fabulous house-mates, being inspired by the excellent seasonal produce at Ludgate farm market and, while on campus, savouring the fresh soup of the day at Temple of Zeus, a cafe in Goldwin Smith Hall. Zeus has a prolific range of tasty soups, recipes for which can be found on their website. What follows is my interpretation of one of my favourite Zeus soups - Cheddar Parsnip - scaled down from commercial proportions, lightened with light milk and less cheese and brightened with the addition of fresh dill right at the end of the cooking process.

Parsnip, cheddar and dill soup

Serves 4

1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 small carrot, diced
1 rib celery, diced (optional)
500g parsnip, peeled and cubed
500g potato, peeled and cubed
1 cup (approx 100g) grated mature cheddar
1 cup low-fat milk
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh dill
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and saute the onion for 5 minutes or until transparent. Add the carrot, celery (if using) and caraway seeds, sauteing for another 5 minutes or until the vegetables have all softened. Add the parsnip and potato and enough hot water to cover the contents of the saucepan. Cover, bring to the boil, lower heat to a fast simmer, cover again and leave to cook for about 15 minutes or until all of the vegetables are fully cooked.

Add the grated cheese, milk and dill to the saucepan and blend the contents with a stick blender until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.