I'm a huge fan of soups - all kinds, smooth, chunky, creamy and rich, spiced and fragrant, thin broths or filling stews, you name it I love it.
This little number is from my book Winter Cabin Cooking, and reminds me of mountain side lunches with hunks of crusty French bread and wedges of nutty local cheese, washed down with a crisp cool beer. It works equally well on a gloomy Wednesday in November, something to warm you from the inside out.
Celeriac and parsnip veloute
I adore veloute, which means velvety in French, smooth and creamy and, well, like velvet in the mouth. A big bowl of steaming veloute that clings enticingly to your bread as you dunk it.
1 celeriac (about 500g)
2 parsnips (about 350g)
2 small onions, one halved and one finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
5 sprigs thyme
100g unsalted butter
100g peeled chestnuts
100ml whole milk
squeeze of lemon juice
double cream to serve
Peel the celeriac and parsnip and finely chop the flesh. Put the skin and 100g of the each of the vegetables into a pan with the halved onion, the garlic and half the thyme. Cover with 1.2ltr water and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Strain and reserve the stock.
Heat the butter in a pan and add the finely chopped onion and fry for 10 minutes until soft. Add the remaining flesh of the parsnip and celeriac and the chestnuts and remaining thyme. Cover with the reserved stock and milk and simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
Strain, reserving the liquid and then whiz the solids in a blender until smooth (you will get a smoother soup this way than if you blend in the pan with a hand blender). Return pureed vegetables to the pan through a sieve and add enough of the cooking liquid to form a rich veloute. Season to taste and add the madeira and a little squeeze of lemon. Bring back to a simmer then serve with a good swirl of double cream.