Warm up your winter with this lovely seasonal soup recipe from our friends at Whiting and Hammond‘s Gastro magazine.

PARSNIP AND VANILLA SOUP WITH SEEDED BREAD LOAF

Serves 4

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 2 hours

Ingredients:
For the bread
500g mixed grain flour
1 tbsp sesame seeds (plus extra for the top)
1 tbsp poppy seeds (plus extra for the top)
1 sachet fast-action yeast
1 tsp salt
300ml lukewarm water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sugar
Semi-skimmed milk to glaze

For the soup
25g butter
25g vegetable oil
Sprig of thyme
2 sticks celery, washed and finely sliced
1 large onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
8 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
500ml semi-skimmed milk
1 litre vegetable stock
1 vanilla pod
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
For the bread
Mix the flour, seeds, yeast and salt into a large mixing bowl. Mix the water, oil and sugar in a jug and pour into the dry ingredients, mixing all the time to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, but not sticky.

Leave in a covered bowl to double in size (in a warm room, this should take about an hour).

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Oil a 1.2-litre loaf tin; once the dough has doubled in size, remove from the bowl and place in the loaf tin, then allow to double again for approximately 45 minutes.

Make a few slashes on the top, brush with the milk and sprinkle with the remaining seeds. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the loaf is risen and golden (when you tap the top, it will sound hollow)

For the soup
Gently melt the butter and vegetable oil in a saucepan. Add the thyme, celery, onion and garlic, and gently cook for approximately 10 minutes, until soft.

Add the cubes of parsnips to the pan, as well as the milk, vegetable stock and vanilla pod. Cook on a low heat for approximately 30 to 40 minutes, until the parsnips are cooked.

When cooked, remove from the heat, remove the vanilla pod and process until smooth. Season with the salt and pepper to taste.

Serve in a deep bowl, alongside the seeded fresh bread.