Zuppa di Pastinaca, Patate e Pancetta Affumicata
Parsnip, Potato & Smokey Bacon Soup
I am glad that some friendly farmer dug down and pulled up the yummy parsnips that I transformed into supper this evening. The sweet, savory, pungent and earthy flavor knocked what would have been a perfectly fine potato soup into orbit and made it especially tasty and made for a great little bowl of comfort food for a cold January evening.
The truth of the matter is... that I realized, much to my dismay, that the dish I was planning to make for myself this evening was going to be a rather small serving- ugh! Can happen to the best of us! So it was time to dig into my bag of tricks and come up with a FAST solution... which came in the shape of 2 little parsnips that were hiding amongst my other veggies, biding their time and waiting for this very evening to come into their own...
So this is how you make a GREAT Winter soup in just 15-20 minutes. First of all, fry some strips of parsnip along with a fine dice of smoked bacon in a non-stick pan (as usual!), until golden. Remove the parsnips and half of the bacon to use as a garnish and then add finely chopped onion and celery to the pan. Whilst these are browning, peel and grate the parsnips and potatoes- I had roughly a 50/50 mix. Start a small amount of water boiling, I would say 1 cupful and add the potato/parsnip mix. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and STIR! Within a minute or two of cooking, the potato and parsnip will soften up to a paste... now you can deglaze the pan with the onions and celery with a splash of white wine and transfer them to the saucepan... and stir again! Now add more water- little by little, as you would when preparing a risotto. You will see the soup rendering down, smoothing and thickening as you go... it's really easy! Now add a handful of finely chopped parsley and season with a little nutmeg. You can add a little cream if you want, but I just added a splash of milk- which worked equally well... it just "softens" the flavor a little and makes it more pleasant.
And that, dear readers, is about all there was to it! I garnished it with the crispy bacon and parsnip strips and enjoyed my little unexpected addition to supper immensely- and I am pretty sure you will too!