“Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile.” – William Cullen Bryant
With days now less bright and balmy and Autumn leaves rustling underfoot, I’m reminded that Winter is well on its way. Notably, not everyone’s favourite season, but it conveys a particular charm, with nuggets of wonderfulness tucked in-between.
Through the high arched windows of my kitchen, I watch as cinnamon-brown leaves drift gently down from the aged oak drift, a bronzed coloured leafy carpet strewn at its base. Soon the kitchen hearth will be crackling with wood-fired warmth and the aroma of wintery foods will hang heavily in the air. Familiar smells of comforting stews and warming bowls of hearty soups beckon. Bright citrusy notes of seasonal fruits will mingle with the aroma of morning coffee and weekend pancakes.
Autumn's breath is crisp and gentle, carrying with it tones of rusted amber, caramel and muted gold. As the seasons change, nature timeously offers up her bounty, with produce that’s seasonally relevant, necessary and always welcome. The lightness of summer foods is supplanted by sturdier pots of slow-cooked casseroles and soups, providing hearty sustenance for all those that gather around the table.
Soup is regarded as the quintessential Winter food. When I think of soup, words like wholesome, comforting and nurturing come to mind. It’s almost soulful, like a mental food hug in a bowl. Not surprising then the success of the inspirational series, ‘Chicken soup for the soul’. These are rather high expectations to live up to for a bowl of soup and certainly a far cry from yesteryear, when a meager bowl of gruel or pottage was regarded as a staple for peasants and the poor.
Today soup is appreciated as a wholesome bowl of liquid fuel, packed to the brim with seasonal goodness. The privilege of choice and availability of unusual ingredients makes for exciting and diverse flavour combinations.
Now, let’s talk about the parsnip. Resembling a pale carrot, with a knobbly exterior and woody core, one doesn’t expect much action from this character. Speaking from experience, I’d be slow to judge. Roasted parsnips drizzled with a buttery maple syrup are delectable served alongside a traditional Sunday roast. They’re perfect for casseroles, stews and especially good for creamy Winter soups. Rich in folate, fibre vitamin C and potassium, the versatility of this root vegetable makes it an ideal choice for robust savoury dishes and delicious, sweet bakes.
My creamed parsnip and apple soup with blue cheese is luxuriously rich and wonderfully warming. The parsnips have a gentle, sweet heat that compliments the apple and salty blue cheese. It’s an exceptional combination. Topped with dainty slices of plump figs and salty prosciuotto it delivers a smattering of lavish. So, ladle up thankfully and share your bowl of good fortune around a cozy autumnal table.
- Dianne Bibby of Bibby's Kitchen at 36
For more delicious soup recipes to keep you warm this Winter, click here.