Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

About Me

My Photo
The Lush Chef
Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
View my complete profile


Powered by Blogger.
Feb 18, 2014

Sherried Parsnip Soup with Hazelnut Pesto

Libations used: More than 1/4 cup dry sherry...
Libations left over: Enough to have a few glasses with friends after dinner, or make this Bittersweet After-Dinner cocktail...
It may have been over 70 degrees out here, but I know pretty much everyone else in the country is freezing their butts off, so this soup is for all of you!  My Gourmet Fresh cookbook has this lovely winter recipe for Sherried Parsnip Soup with a Hazelnut Pesto.  I absolutely adore parsnips and think it's such an underrated vegetable.  Sherry is also having its comeback, so do yourself a favor and buy a nice bottle so you can enjoy it after dinner and get accustomed to the flavor.  I'm a fan of Tio Pepe Fino Sherry.  This soup comes together fairly quickly, so it's a great weeknight dinner recipe.  The hazelnut pesto is made with parsley, olive oil, and hazelnut oil, with the latter being optional if you can't track it down.  You'll definitely have leftover pesto, so it's great to pop in the fridge for a week or the freezer for up to a month, and use on steak, fish, chicken, or pasta.  The soup itself is mild and comforting with a hint of sherry, so when you stir in that pesto, it just absolutely enriches the flavor.

Sherried Parsnip Soup with Hazelnut Pesto - serves 4-6
Soup Ingredients:
  • 1 lb parsnips (about 6 medium ones), peeled and sliced
  • 5 large shallots, sliced
  • 3 leeks, white and pale green parts sliced
  • 1 celery rib, sliced
  • 5 Tbs unsalted butter
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbs dry Sherry (I used Tio Pepe)
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 3 Tbs heavy cream (optional)
  • 3/4 cup hazelnut pesto (recipe below)
To make the soup:
- In a 4-quart pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the parsnips, shallots, leeks, celery, and butter.
- Season with salt and black pepper, and sauté until moderately browned (about 10 minutes).
- Add 1/4 cup of the Sherry and cook until the liquid has evaporated.
- Add the water and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes, or until the veggies are very soft.
- Purée the mixture in batches in a blender.
- Transfer all the soup back into your pot and stir in the rest of the Sherry, cream, and add more salt and pepper, to taste.
- Divide soup in bowls and top with a generous dollop of pesto and some crushed, toasted hazelnuts.

Hazelnut Pesto Ingredients (make 1 1/2 cups):
  • 1 cup hazelnuts (about 4 1/2 ounces)
  • 2 cups packed, fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 2 large garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbs hazelnut oil (optional)
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
To make the pesto:
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Place hazelnuts in one layer on a small baking sheet and place in the middle of the oven, toasting for about 10-15 minutes, until colored lightly and slightly blistered.
- Wrap the nuts in a paper towel and let them steam for about a minute.
- Rub the nuts in paper towels to remove the skins (not all will come off) and let cool completely.
- In a food processor, add all the ingredients and blend until smooth. I had to add a little bit of olive oil to loosen up the mixture a bit.