vegetarian By Mercedes Aspland / January 16, 2014 Hopefully you will soon become aware that I will be taking more time to write this blog this year and so you should get a lot more regular posts with new recipes, yoga info and other bits and pieces that I find interesting. Over the year I also intend to learn a lot more about food photography and to get myself a new camera so you can start getting more of an idea of how yummy some of these recipes are, even if I do say so myself! As it is a new year, like you I have a lot of resolutions of things that I really want to achieve or change this year. Probably the first one on my list is to lose the extra weight I put on giving up smoking last year, it totalled about a stone but I have already been working on it so is coming down. I find that one of the best ways to lose weight is to eat lots of soup, it is usually low calorie, healthy and leaves you feeling really satisfied. I love making soups as well as they are generally very easy and it is a great way to experiment. I called this soup Parsnip & Chestnut although I could just have easily called it “Roast Dinner Soup”. This might seem really strange but I first made it on Boxing Day as a great way to use up the left overs from Christmas day. So if you decide to do that then just use the left over vegetables (including parsnips), you will probably need to add chestnuts, I had them when I made it as they were in out stuffing but on a regular when we have roast! I decided to focus on parsnip with this soup as it has a sweet flavour that really compliments the earthiness of the chestnuts to make an exquisite combination. Parsnip & Chestnut Soup Serves 4-6 Ingredients 2 large Parsnips (if you are using left overs reduce this to 1) 1 Medium Leek, sliced 1 Onion, chopped 2 Small Apples (I used Braeburns but go for what you like for example 1 Granny Smith Apple works well), chopped 100g/3.5oz Roasted Chestnuts, roughly chopped 2 Cloves of Garlic, crushed 4 Sprigs of Thyme 10 Sage Leaves, chopped 500ml/2 cups Vegetable Stock Oat Cream to Swirl (or cream of your choice) 3 Tbs of Medium or Mild Olive Oil Method Start by pre-heating an oven to 200C/400F. Peel your parsnips and cut them in half lengthways, place in a baking tray and cover with 2 tbs of oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for around 45 minutes or until soft and browned. While the Parsnip is roasting, heat the remaining tbs oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion. Once the onion has begun to soften, about 1-2 minutes, add the leeks, garlic and herbs. Cook for 5-10 minutes until everything is soft and the flavours have begun to infuse. Add the apple, chestnuts and seasoning and cook for 5 minutes on low. If you are using any left overs then this is the time to add them. Continue to sweat ingredients on a low heat until the parsnips are ready. Once the parsnips are fully cooked remove them from the over and cut into chunks and add to saucepan. Stir to ensure everything is well combined. Blend your soup with 500ml of stock, I use and liquidiser and do it in batches but you could use a stick blender too. Return to saucepan and add water to take soup to desired consistency. Increase heat and bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer until it is ready for serving. Taste and season as appropriate. To Serve Put soup in bowls and swirl a small amount of oat cream in the middle. The perfect treat for cold days.