My first Christmas working in Parliament – which for the record was three years ago – we went for lunch in the Members’ Dining Room. Staff members are not usually allowed to have lunch there, but we were allowed to book a table for our Christmas lunch.
It was a very funny lunch, at the time were six staff members – five full-time and one part-time, though mainly because of the comical mishaps and misunderstandings, such as one of our group shouting ‘no’ quite loud at the waiter because s/he thought he was going to pour red wine in the glass of someone who wanted to drink white. Let’s just say that in a somewhat subdued and rather serious atmosphere that turned some heads.
Now an English Christmas lunch is nothing like a Swedish one. We don’t even call it ‘lunch’; we call it Julbord – which means Christmas table! The English ones I’ve been to have had menus with three or so options per course, and most of them have been Christmassy. In Sweden you pay a set price per person and it’s a massive, and I mean massive, buffet. One table with just cold food, one table with just hot food, and one table just for sweets, biscuits, and desserts. A Swedish Julbord is the kind of thing where you should skip breakfast and still won’t need any dinner. This can become quite difficult if you’re going back to work afterwards though, so unless you’re doing it on the weekend, most people have a Julbord at dinnertime rather than at lunchtime.
But the English lunch has its charms, (one of them being that you don’t grow tired of eating the same food before you have to do it again on Christmas Eve) and when we went in the House I decided to try a honey roasted parsnip soup for my starter. I wasn’t necessarily a huge fan of parsnips, but I wasn’t too excited by any of the other options, so I went for it. My indifference towards parsnips soon changed though, and I’m pretty sure this was the turning point because I really liked that soup. So much so that almost three years later I still remember it.
I think my thinking that I wasn’t a big fan of parsnips came from when my dad used to make potato gratin when I was little. He would often make potato and parsnip gratin (with lots of onion!) so I would bite into what I thought was a lovely, soft potato – and it wasn’t. That has then followed me through life making me think I didn’t like parsnips, until I moved to the UK.
Now I’ve realised that I actually love parsnips, and being in my soup mood I’ve been thinking about this honey roasted parsnip soup I had in Parliament – especially since parsnips were half price in my supermarket last week. I started Googling for a recipe, but mainly came across regular parsnip soups. So I took a roasted parsnip soup recipe I found on BBC and combined it with my honey roasted parsnip recipe, and tada!
2 tbsp brown sugar
4 tbsp honey (2 + 2)
2 vegetable stock cubes
750 ml hot water
750 ml milk
Peel your parsnips and cut them into smaller pieces. Then melt the butter, brown sugar, and 2 tbsp of the honey in a pot. Pour the honey-mixture over the parsnips and toss them around to make sure they’re well-coated.
Roast for around 15-20 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius.
Chop of your onion and fry in a little bit of oil or butter (your preference) until it goes somewhat translucent. Add the parsnips, making sure that you get all the gooey honey-mixture into the pot with you.
Add the stock cubes, water, and milk, and bring to boil. Then leave to simmer for around 5 minutes.
Add the remaining 2 tbsp of honey, then blitz the soup in a blender or with a hand blender.
I had very high hopes for this soup, and I was not disappointed. It was not quite as sweet as the one I had for our Christmas lunch, but with four tablespoons of honey I think this was probably sweet enough. If you really want it to be a bit sweeter (or you want to make it look more appealing to your guests) you can always drizzle some honey on top.
I got about 4.5-5 portions out of this recipe (last portion was a bit smaller than the other 4), and again, a nice slice of bread with it is not wrong.