Autumn is a beautiful season and despite the prospect of chillier days and darker evenings approaching, there is always something rather appealing at the thought of cosying up a bit. This is a lovely soup to welcome in the new season and makes good use of the parsnips and fennel that have thrived in my vegetable patch. We have apples, too and the three go together so well, although a little of the apple will go a long way so be sparing with it. I have used rosemary and sage here – thyme would be perfect too or just parsley if you prefer.
Finish the soup with a scattering of toasted seeds, chopped herbs, sauteed cubes of red skinned eating apple, any or all above a swirl of creme fraiche or soured cream.
50g butter (or 2 tablespoons rapeseed oil)
1 large or 2 small onions
2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed in a pestle & mortar
3 or 4 large parsnips (about 400g)
1 small bulb fennel
1 piece of cooking apple (about 75g)
3 sprigs rosemary
3 sprigs sage
1 litre of chicken/veg stock
Sea salt & black pepper
Mixed seeds, red skinned apple and/or chopped fine herbs to finish
Peel and chop all the vegetables. Heat the butter in a saucepan and then add the onion. Saute gently for a few minutes before adding the fennel seeds and cook for a minute or two longer. Then add the parsnips, fennel and apple. Season with salt and pepper. Crush the rosemary and put it and the sage into a spice bag (this makes it easier to remove). Add to the vegetables and then pour over the stock, just to cover reserving the rest for later. Simmer for about half an hour or until the parsnip and fennel and very tender.
Blend the soup, then add one or two tablespoons of creme fraiche, depending on how creamy you like it. Adjust the thickness with the rest of the stock. Season again.
Serve with the garnishes if using. You will need to cook the chopped apple in a little butter just to soften it.