Spring is almost here but winter is still lingering; last week we finally had some snow, which is what we call icy rain and slush in North Carolina. Gloria came over for another lovely Sunday in the kitchen. We’ve decided to get together about once a month and master a new skill; last month it was deboning a chicken and making Pollo a la Brasa. This month I requested we make soup (because jaw surgery) so we chose the complimentary skill of making nut milk for the soups, and baking with the pulp!
Making nut milk is devastatingly simple: it’s just a matter of soaking the nuts overnight (we did a batch of hazelnuts and a batch of pecans), straining them, blending them with water, and straining them again. I’ve done it before through a cloth, but this time used a fine mesh strainer. You could probably squeeze out just a little more with a cloth and get the pulp a little drier, but it’s also so much messier, so search in your heart whether it’s worth it. My heart is
The soups we made with the nut milks were a sweet potato casserole soup that Gloria dreamed up (spiced roasted sweet potatoes, apple juice, pecan and coconut milks – I have some in the freezer I can’t wait to eat!) and a parsnip and hazelnut soup from Diana’s Food Adventures in Ficiton blog. It’s inspired by Rapunzel, which thrilled my daughter. You can read all about it on Diana’s blog, or even listen to us discuss it on our Grimm’s Fairy Tales episode of Fiction Kitchen!
The only thing I did differently was to add some of the hazelnut pulp to thicken the soup. The way she prepares it is more elegant, but as I’m mostly eating soup nowadays, I’m trying to make them as hearty as possible – so mine is the rustic version.
Winter White Parsnip and Hazelnut Soup
For the hazelnut milk (makes about 2 cups)
- 2 cups blanched and skinned hazelnuts
- 4 cups water
Soak the hazelnuts in 2 cups water overnight. Strain, and blend with 2 more cups water. Strain through a cheese cloth or a fine mesh strainer. Reserve the nut pulp.
For the soup
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 leeks, sliced (white parts only)
- salt & white pepper
- 2-3 small parsnips (the smaller the sweeter), peeled and chopped
- 1/2 cup hazelnut pulp
- 2 cups hazelnut milk
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- crushed hazelnuts for garnish
In a soup pot, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the leeks and saute until nice and wilty. Season with salt and white pepper, and stir for a minute. Add the parsnips, hazelnut pulp, hazelnut milk, and vegetable broth, and simmer until parsnips are very tender, about 20 minutes.
Pour into a blender and puree (hold a tea towel over the lid). Pour back into the soup pot and gently warm back through; taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve hot garnished with crushed hazelnuts.
Soups look so cute and cool in mason jars.