Heaven and Earth – Parsnip and Pear Soup
by eat in my kitchen
Heaven and Earth, Himmel und Erde! In the German Rhineland area where I grew up, we have a popular traditional dish which is named after the elements where the ingredients for this meal grow. Heaven and Earth, Himmel und Ääd in the Rhineland dialect, combines mashed potatoes with a sweet apple compote. It’s often served with black pudding but it started as a vegetarian dish for the poor in the 18th century.
Today’s soup was inspired by this idea of the elements but I replaced the potato with parsnip and the apple with pear. It’s a sweet and earthy composition cooked in a strong meat broth. I used venison stock as I had some left from the game cooking session in my mother’s kitchen a couple weeks ago. It added a warm and hearty touch to the soup which I refined with lots of garlic, a bay leaf, thyme and rosemary. I cooked it for only 25 minutes until the roots were soft before I puréed it into a velvety treat for cold autumn nights. The flavours were so strong that it could take a little bit of heavy cream stirred in and a dollop of mascarpone with some flowery marjoram sprinkled on top.
Parsnip and Pear Soup
For 2 as a main or 4 as a starter you need
parsnip, peeled and chopped, 300g / 10.5 ounces
large crunchy pear, peeled, cored and chopped, 1, about 200g/ 7 ounces
medium sized onion, chopped, 1
garlic, quartered, 3 big cloves
meat or vegetable broth 800ml / 2 pints
bay leaf 1
a small bunch of thyme
a sprig of rosemary
heavy cream 50ml / 2 ounces
ground pepper plus black peppercorns crushed in a mortar for the topping
mascarpone, crème fraîche or sour cream 4 heaped teaspoons, for the topping
fresh marjoram leaves, thinly sliced, a small handful, for the topping
In a large pot, heat a splash of olive oil and cook the onion on medium heat until soft. Add the parsnip, garlic and pear and cook for a minute. Pour in the broth and add the bay leaf, thyme and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 25 minutes or until the roots are soft.
Purée the soup in a blender or with a stick mixer. Stir in the cream, season to taste and serve with a dollop of mascarpone and some marjoram and crushed black pepper on top.