Parsnip and crab-apple soup

Serves 4-6
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Indy Lifestyle Online

I have lots of different types of crab-apple trees growing on my road and I think it's perfectly reasonable to go apple scrumping on the streets of London – although the sight of a grown man shaking branches of trees overhanging the pavement did elicit a few strange looks from my neighbours. Tart apples and sweet, earthy parsnips are a perfect marriage in a soup, or mashed up together as a vegetable accompaniment. I've left the skin and core in the crab apples; trying to core them is a bit tricky, and a lot of the flavour is in the skin.

500g parsnips, peeled and roughly diced
A couple of handfuls of crab apples, washed
A couple of good knobs of butter
100ml cider
1.2ltrs vegetable stock
90ml double cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a thick-bottomed pan and gently cook the parsnips and apples with a lid on for about 4-5 minutes, giving them the occasional stir and not allowing them to colour. Remove the lid, add the cider and vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Season with salt and pepper and simmer gently for about 15-20 minutes or until the parsnips are soft. Blend in a liquidiser until smooth and strain through a fine-meshed sieve. Bring back to the boil, add the double cream and adjust with a little water or stock if it's too thick. Serve in hot soup bowls.

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