This creamy soup is subtly flavoured with warming spices and given texture with a nutty brown-butter topping. It's worth making a double batch and freezing extra for quick lunches.
- 100 gm cold butter, coarsely chopped
- 1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced
- 6 thyme sprigs, plus 1 tbsp thyme leaves
- 2 star anise
- ½ cinnamon quill
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 litre (4 cups) chicken stock
- 800 gm parnsips (about 4 large), cut into 1cm pieces
- 50 gm roasted hazelnuts
- 300 ml pouring cream
- Toasted and buttered sourdough, to serve
- 1Heat half the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add leek, thyme sprigs, star anise and cinnamon, and cook, stirring often, until leek is softened (6-7 minutes). Add two-thirds of the garlic and cook, stirring continuously, until fragrant (1 minute). Add stock and parsnip, season to taste and bring to the boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer, covered, until parsnip is very tender (15-18 minutes).
- 2Meanwhile, cook remaining butter in a small saucepan until foaming and nut brown (3-4 minutes), then stir in thyme leaves and remaining garlic. Transfer to a food processor with hazelnuts and process until nuts are coarsely chopped. Season to taste.
- 3Stir cream into soup, discard thyme sprigs and spices, then blend soup with a hand-held blender until very smooth. Top with hazelnut butter and serve with toasted sourdough.
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