Christmas Recipe: Chestnut, Parsnip & Apple Soup (adapted from Gordon Ramsay's Cookalong show on BBC Lifestyle)

Chestnut, Parsnip & Apple Soup (adapted from Gordon Ramsay's recipe)
Roast Chestnut, Parsnip and Apple Soup (serves 4)
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 2 x parsnips, medium, peeled and grated
  • 2 x celery stick(s), chopped
  • 1tsp curry powder, mild or medium strength
  • sage, small bunch (I was unable to find sage so I omitted it)
  • 1 x apple(s), cored and chopped
  • 250g roasted chestnuts, shelled, skinned and roughly chopped
  • vegetable stock, 800ml-1 litre, hot
  • 100ml single cream
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • ground black pepper
1. Melt the butter in a wide pan and add the parsnips. Allow to cook out briefly before adding the celery followed by the apples.
2. Add the curry powder and tear in a couple of sage leaves.
3. Season with salt and pepper and allow to soften before adding the chestnuts.
4. Pour in the stock. Cover and allow to simmer for 4-5 mins.
5. Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the cream.
6. Use a hand-held stick blender or a regular blender to liquidize the soup to a smooth and creamy purée (you may need to do this in batches if using a jug blender).
7. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
8. If you prefer the soup thinner, loosen the consistency with a splash of hot water.
9. Pour into warm bowls. Finely slice 3-4 sage leaves and sprinkle over the soup to garnish. Drizzle over a little olive oil and serve.
I received an email from Fulford PR telling me that their client, BBC, is launching a new show on BBC Lifestyle Channel (Starhub Cable Channel 83), Gordon Ramsay's Cookalong on 20 December 2009 (Sunday) at 7.55pm (Singapore time). They are kicking off with a Christmas edition whilst the show will officially premiere on 2 March 2010 at 8.25pm.
I was asked if I would like to feature the show on my blog by cooking along to the show and documenting the experience. It sounded like a fabulous idea. After watching Julie & Julia, I had been inspired to cook again. It was time to put more than a dozen years of culinary lessons and my kitchen gadgets to use. Unfortunately, I do not have a subscription to Starhub Cable's Channel 83. They were sweet enough to offer to pass me a DVD and also provide 6 aprons as quiz prizes for readers. :)
Due to a tight schedule, I had to start the cooking and documentation process ahead of the program and before the DVD could reach me.
So, how did it go? To be honest, I've never had Roasted Chestnut, Parsnip and Apple Soup. I wouldn't have been inclined to drink it as I prefer savoury food to sweet-ish tasting dishes. I gave this recipe a try anyway.
Steamed Chestnuts (Vacuum packed)
Cooked Chestnuts in a Vacuum Pack
@ S$14 for 500g


It wasn't easy finding Roasted Chestnuts but I managed to find Steamed Chestnuts at Culina in Dempsey Hill. If you have trouble finding chestnuts, fret not for you can substitute it with equal quantities of Sweet Potatoes or Japanese Squash (aka Kabocha).

Organic Parsnips

Parsnips are winter root vegetables so I didn't have too much trouble finding some. I didn't grate them but cheated and put them into my food processor. As it's a hardy root, I applied the same principle as I do for processing Blue Ginger (aka Galangal / Lengkuas) or Lemongrass (aka Serai). I cut the root down into smaller pieces before putting them through the food processor. This small step helps to cut down the processing time and also prevent the motor in your food processor from burning out.

I chopped the chestnuts, celery and apple by hand as whizzing them in the food processor might break them down too much.

50g Unsalted Butter at the bottom of my pot

The recipe calls for 50g butter. As a rule of thumb, always use unsalted butter instead of salted butter in cooking so that you can control the saltiness of the dish more easily. I like using President butter for its quality and also because there is a guide on the foil wrapper to indicate the approximate amount of butter as you cut the block in graduations of 25g.

I fried the vegetables along with the curry powder. I couldn't afford the time to stop and take photos of the frying process as the parsnips were giving out alot of moisture (thus lots of steam emitting from my pot) and since they were finely chopped, they would have burnt very easily.

After adding the stock

Here's a picture of the apple and celery bits floating around in the soup after I had added the vegetable stock. The yellow hue is due to the butter. I didn't have time to make fresh vegetable stock, so I used stock cubes. If you are also using stock cubes, please go easy on the salt during the frying process.

After adding the cream

Here's a picture of it after I added the single cream after removing the pan from off the heat. It looks just slightly milkier than the previous picture.

I used a Braun Multiquick Hand Blender to liquidize the soup into a smooth purée. I like using this hand blender because it allows me to do the blending in the same pot that I cooked the soup in and also it saves me the trouble of washing more utensils. Make sure that you do not overfill the pot and try to use a pot with higher sides to prevent splatter.

If you do not have a hand blender, you can use a jug blender but only fill the blender up to halfway as due to the heat of the soup, the cover might pop off once you switch it on and you could end up scalding yourself. As a precaution, always place a folded dry towel over the cover of the jug blender and hold both the cover and towel down while the blender is in use.

Ready to serve - Chestnut, Parsnip & Apple Soup

As I didn't have any luck finding sage, I omitted from the recipe.Thus without sage leaves to garnish my soup with, I simply added some Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Black Pepper.

I was very pleasantly surprised by the flavour of the soup. It was not as sweet as I expected it to be and the curry powder added a nice touch of spice to it. It had the distinct flavour of parsnips, the muted sweetness of apple, the warm spice factor of the curry and a touch of freshness from the celery. Very delicious indeed! Even a friend of mine who had also never had this dish felt it was surprisingly savoury, I guess I shall have to make this soup more often.

Difficulty rating: 2 out of 5 (try not to burn the parsnips).

Even if you've never cooked before, this is a recipe worth trying out.

* Want to win a souvenir apron? Keep your eyes peeled for details.

** Cost of all ingredients were borne by yours truly.  :)