Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tuesday Tutor: Featuring Blue Kitchen Bakes

Parsnip and Bacon Soup Overhead
Parsnip & Bacon Soup


Every Tuesday I choose a different friend to be my tutor for a day: I select one of their original recipes, I make the recipe following my friend's instructions, I snap a multitude of pictures, I scarf down as much as my belt-line will permit - and then I share everything I love about my friend's recipe. Learn More



Today's Tuesday Tutor: Blue Kitchen Bakes

My tutor today is Jen from Blue Kitchen Bakes, a blogger I recently met through the Made with Love Mondays weekly series. What really fascinates about Jen is her willingness to just dive in and try a new creation - she's often posting her own new original recipes or sharing creative new twists on all things baked. Check out the recipes at the end of this post and you'll see what I mean.

And while Jen's blog is mostly devoted to baking, she's not afraid to share her own cooking creations too - like this parsnip and bacon soup. As soon as I read the title, I knew I wanted to attempt the soup because I love parsnips and I've been curious about how one might transform them into a soup. And I secretly yearned to use star anise - which is really the star of this soup (pun intended).

About the Author
  1. "Since starting my blog 6 months ago I've been a lot more inspired in the kitchen and have started creating more of my own recipes taking inspiration from my growing collection of books."
  2. "I'm guilty of spending too much time time day dreaming about baking when I'm supposed to be focused on my research."
  3. "I am a complete bookworm and I'm constantly reading either academic research papers (for my PhD), novels, cook books or foodie blogs. I read so much I think I'm starting to wear my glasses out!"
  4. "I live in the UK but I regularly go to France to visit my family and to gorge myself silly on French cheese and patisserie."
  5. "I secretly dance around the kitchen to cheesy 80's music when I'm baking."



How to Make: Parsnip & Bacon Soup
Original recipe courtesy of Blue Kitchen Bakes
For a printable recipe with complete list of ingredients and steps, please refer to the original recipe


Chasseur Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
This is truly a one-pot soup. And because it all starts with bacon, I decided to use my enameled
cast iron dutch oven. Just make sure you pick a large pot that's no too deep... If you're using
cast iron, now is the time to start heating up the pan so it's good and hot before adding the bacon

6 Slices of Smoked Bacon
You will need 6 strips of bacon. I prefer a smoked nitrate-free bacon.

Finely Chopped Bacon
Chop up the bacon into small pieces

Bacon Added to Hot Dutch Oven
By now your pan should be pre-heated, so add the bacon. I find the bacon has enough fat that
extra oil is unnecessary for crisping the bacon. Keep an eye on the bacon, stirring every 5
minutes or so until crispy.

2 Small Onions, Peeled and Halved
While the bacon cooks, you can peel and chop your onions. I had some pretty small onions,
so I used 2 onions instead of just one.

Diced Onion
I also used my chopper gadget to make quick work out of chopping the onions

Crispy Fried Bacon
Check the bacon. Do not remove from the pot until it's good and crispy.

Bacon Draining on Paper Towels
Transfer the crispy bacon to a cooling rack lined with paper towels and allow bacon to drain

Diced Onion Added to Bacon Fat
Add your chopped onions to the remaining bacon fat in the pot and allow them to sauté while
you prepare your parsnips

1 1/2 Pounds Parsnips
You will need about 1 1/2 pounds of parsnips. In my case, I had some big parsnips so I needed
about 7 in total

Peeled Parsnips
Peel the parsnips

Parsnips Cut into Pieces
I then cut the parsnips into pieces to make it easier to dice them with my chopper gadget

Diced Parsnips
Dice the parsnips

Softened Translucent Onions
By now your onions should be softened and translucent

Parsnips Added to Sauted Onions in Dutch Oven
Add the parsnips

Parsnips Cooked with Onions
Saute the parsnips with the onions for another 5 minutes until they begin to soften

6 Cups of Water Added to Soup
Add your water. You will need enough to just cover the parsnips. I used 6 cups but later decided
this was too much water as the soup ended up quite thin. If you prefer a thicker soup, I would
use 4 to 4 1/2 cups of water instead of 6 cups...

Soup Seasoned with Salt and Pepper
Season the soup with kosher salt and cracked black pepper. I used about 1/2 teaspoon cracked
black pepper and about 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt.

Star Anise
Next comes the secret star of this soup: star anise. You may have to check a number of stores
in order to hunt down this spice - I had to check 3 different places before I finally found it.
You will need 1 star for this recipe (unless you really like anise as I do, in which case you may
want to use 2 stars)

Star Anise Added to Soup
Add the star anise to the soup and the pot to a simmer

Soup Simmering
Simmer the soup uncovered for 15 minutes - this will help the soup reduce a bit and cook
the parsnips while allowing all the flavors to meld

Immersion Blender Wand
Once the parsnips are softened, you're ready to puree the soup. If you have a immersion hand
blender like this one, this would be the time to use it. If not, you can always blend the soup in
a heat-safe blender, working in batches...

Pureeing Soup with Immersion Blender
Remove the star anise and puree the soup

Pureed Parsnip and Bacon Soup
This final soup was a little too thin for me...

Reducing Parsnip and Bacon Soup
So I simmered the pureed soup for another 20 minutes or so...

Stirring Through Bacon Bits in Soup
Once the soup is thickened to your preference, stir through the crispy bacon bits. Check the
seasonings and adjust. 

Parsnip and Bacon Soup with Roll
I reserved a few little bits of bacon to garnish the top of the soup and I served with a homemade
dinner roll. This is one bowl of delicious comfort...


Thoughts while scarfing...
  • I love the subtle flavor from the star anise - it's so delicate and compliments the parsnip perfectly. But I wanted even more of that anise flavor, so the next time I make this soup, I plan to use two star anise instead of just one.
     
  • Despite the creamy smooth texture of the soup, there's not even one drop of cream or milk - which makes this almost a healthful soup. I suppose the bacon really cannot be considered healthy by any stretch of the imagination, but there's not really THAT much bacon anyway. The point is, no cream = better for you...
     
  • Be careful not to over-season with pepper or salt. The bacon adds quite a bit of salt to start with and cracked black pepper will intensify as the soup cooks and cools. You really don't want to overpower the anise and parsnip beauty that is this soup...
     
  • As I noted earlier, I prefer a somewhat thicker/creamier soup, so I ended up simmering the soup uncovered for over half an hour to cook off some of the liquid. When I make this soup next time, I plan to only use 4 cups of water instead of six.

2 comments:

  1. mjskit @ mjskitchen.comAugust 14, 2012 at 11:25 PM

    Another great tutorial! I do love the flavor of parsnip and with bacon - now that does sound delicious! The star anise was a surprise but sure - why not? It make sense. Headed over to check out BKB.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm glad you enjoyed, MJ - I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the star anise flavor and I'm definitely going to be experimenting more with those little stars ;) Happy I could introduce you to Jen and her blog...

    ReplyDelete