Love your ugly veg

There’s been a fair amount of coverage in the media recently about wonky veg, and the supermarkets’ costly distaste for it. Every year, an (almost) unbelievable amount of “imperfect” fruit and veg is rejected, and left rotting in large putrid piles. The travesty is that it’s not about taste or nutrition, it’s all about looks. Supermarkets want model veg that only subscribes to their pre-approved ideals; weight, size, colour, and finish. They’re just effectively throwing away perfectly good food.

Trug of ugly veg parsnips

I may well have won the ugly veg award this year, as my parsnips look as thought they’ve been cast under an ugly spell. I didn’t quite get the no-dig depths right in my parsnip bed, and the dry summer and lack of form mulch gave me twizzly roots and seemingly a new breed of mutant parsnip spawn.

Parsnips washed down

But I wanted to prove a point. No matter how ugly, twisted or gnarled my veg might be, it’s still perfectly edible. OK, so I had to lop off a few rusty bits of parsnip, but I still managed to finish up with a delicious spicy parsnip soup.

Parsnip soup in the pot

If there’s one thing that growing my own food has taught me, it’s that it’s not about looks; it’s all about personality! And that even the ugliest of veg – grown for pennies organically at home – can become the tastiest dish come dinner time.


Lucy’s Spicy Parsnip Soup Recipe

Bedfordshire in Autumn

Crisp sunny but damp mornings, chunky knits, burnished and crimson leaves fluttering down from the trees. An abundance of apples, sloes, raspberries, potatoes and crunchy salad leaves. That’s what’s going down at The Smallest Smallholding this week. Autumn is also the season of root vegetables, which is partly why I love this time in the growing season.

As I mentioned in my last post, I love soups. I really do. I could eat soup for lunch and dinner at least five days a week (alternating with my three other favourite food groups – curry, chilli and beanburgers). I’ve already previously written about my leek and potato soup recipe, my garden soup recipe (courgette and pea) and my spicy autumn sup recipe. Here’s a new one for you that’s sure to warm the cockles on a chilly Autumn day – spicy parsnip soup.

I’ve never really been a fan of creamy soups, and as a vegan it’s a little bit of a hassle finding a suitable creamy alternative (though absolutely do-able). I’ve always eschewed the likes of cream in soup for creamy veggie alternatives – I find it’s easy easy as just picking the right variety of creamy, floury potato. So here’s my creamless but smooth, spicy and, above all, hearty spicy parsnip soup recipe.

Spicy parsnip soup recipe

Spicy parsnip soup recipe

Quick and Easy Spicy Parsnip Soup recipe (vegan/vegetarian)

Prep: About 10 minutes, less if you’re a fast chopper!

Ingredients (for a fairly large batch)

3 medium onions, diced
Vegetable oil  (rapeseed) or mild blend of cooking olive oil
3 large carrots, chopped roughly
2 medium floury potatoes (such as maris piper, desiree or picasso), diced
3 medium-large parsnips, chopped and diced
Vegetable stock (I use Marigold Vegan stock)

Garam masala
Ground cayenne pepper

1. Sweat the onions until soft in the vegetable oil and then add the chopped carrots, potatoes and parsnips. Sweat for a further for 5-10 minutes making sure the veg doesn’t stick to the pan (a liberal dash of oil after you’ve added the veg will help prevent this)
2. Add boiling water, making sure to cover the veg by about 3/4 inch, followed by the veg stock powder. Add in a level dessert spoon or so of cumin and garam masala (mixed), and add a dash of cayenne pepper if you like an extra spicy kick. Add more spice to taste if you’re like me and love a heavily seasoned soup.
3. Bring to a rolling boil and then simmer until the veggies are soft and the potatoes are breaking apart easily.
4. Take off the heat, leave to cool for a few minutes and then whizz up with a hand blender. Add more boiling water from the kettle if you need to thin off the soup. I like mine hearty and thick.
5. Serve with crusty bread.