Curried parsnip and pear soup

Surely there is no better month for soups than January. Cold afternoons and the aftermath of December’s over-indulgence mean that soups are both comforting and virtuous, depending on how much thickly buttered bread you eat with them. The key ingredients of this soup work well together; the earthiness of the parsnip and the sweetness of the pear are lifted by the heat of the curry powder.  The recipe is from  

The recipe ticks all the boxes for me; it’s seasonal, spicy and just a little bit decadent with its showy but delicious garnish. It’s extremely easy to make and will brighten anyone’s January afternoon.


  • 50g butter
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp curry powder (You can make this by using equal measures of crushed cumin coriander and mustard seeds, turmeric and chilli (flakes or powder)
  • 600g parsnips (about 6), roughly chopped
  • 3 pears, quartered
  • 500ml milk
  • 800ml vegetable stock
  • 3 tbsp double cream
  • To serve
  • Knob butter
  • 1 pear, sliced
  • Small handful of pumpkin seeds


  • Heat the butter in a large pan and add the onion and curry powder. Gently sauté for 5 minutes, or until the onion softens.
  • Put the parsnips and pears in the pan and stir so that they become well coated in the curry butter. Pour in the milk and stock, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes.
  • Check that the parsnips are tender before removingfrom the heat. Blend using a food processor or hand blender, then stir through the cream and season to taste.
  • To serve: melt the butter in a frying pan and carefully add the pear slices. Allow the pear to fry for 1 minutes then use tongs to flip it and allow the other side to cook for a further minute.
  • Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with pear slices and pumpkin seeds.

Pickled Pear, Lentil and Goat’s Cheese Salad


This is fast becoming one of my all-time favourite salads. What first attracted me to this recipe was the colour of the pears; I think they look amazing. So this was the salad I made when my mum and dad came for a fleeting visit, and they loved it. The ingredients are simple, flavoursome and marry together so well. The recipe is from Rachel Khoo’s, My Kitchen Notebook. In the original, she uses blue cheese which I like, but not everyone is a fan. My parents really enjoy goat’s cheese which works extremely well, so I used it in this version of the salad. I’ve also made it with feta which is also delicious. You don’t need to use a salad dressing as the pears are quite juicy and sharp. If you really wanted, you could drizzle a little of the pickling liquid over, but I don’t think it needs it. A nice addition to this is a handful of pan roasted walnuts or pecans sprinkled over the top.

Preparation time: 15 minutes,  resting time: overnight,  cooking time: 1 hour


250ml water

250ml red wine vinegar 150g caster sugar

4 firm pears, peeled but with stems on

4 small beetroot, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes

200g Puy lentils

100g cheese: choose from goat’s cheese, feta, gorgonzola or other blue cheese

1 handful of watercress

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Pinch of sea salt pinch and freshly ground pepper




  • Put the water, vinegar and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer over a low heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then add the pears and beetroot. Cut a piece of baking paper/parchment larger than the diameter of the pan, crumple it up, and cut a hole or slit in the centre. Place in contact with the liquid and let some seep through to keep the paper in place. Cover and simmer gently over low heat for 1 hour.
  •  Remove from the heat and transfer the pears, beetroot, and all the liquid to a lidded container. Set aside until it cools to room temperature, then put in the refrigerator to pickle overnight.
  •  When ready to serve, cook the lentils following the package instructions, then drain.
  • Transfer the pears to a cutting board and the beetroot to a bowl (discard the liquid or save it for up to 1 week for pickling something else).
  • Toss the lentils with the beetroot, then crumble the cheese into small chunks and add to the bowl. Divide the mixture among four salad plates.
  • Cut each pear in half and place them on the serving plate, with a little watercress.
  • Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.