Creamy parsnip soup

I’m currently trying to get to grips with a range of different French idiomatic expressions involving food, such as ‘raconter des salades’ (literally: to tell some salad – to spin a story), and ‘la moutarde me monte au nez’ (literally: the mustard goes up my nose – I’m getting really angry).

This has reminded me of two things – one, teaching a Khmer colleague in Cambodia the New Zealand expression that ‘it’s all going to custard’ and two, of the English saying that ‘fine words butter no parsnips’. The former is a way of saying that everything is going wrong, but the latter is somewhat harder to explain. I think it means that fancy words mean little, but I’m not entirely sure. However, I am much more certain about this parsnip soup, which is entirely fine and yet contains very little butter. I’m not telling you any salads, I promise.

Creamy parsnip soup

Serves 4-6

60g butter

2 tsp olive oil

2 large onions, finely diced

3 large cloves garlic, finely sliced

1 kg parsnips (about 8 large ones), peeled and cut into chunks

1 sprig fresh thyme

4 cups chicken stock

Juice of one lemon

½ cup cream, plus a little extra for drizzling

Heat the butter and oil in a large, heavy pot. Add the onions and garlic, and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the parsnips and cook for a further 10-15 minutes, until softened and starting to turn golden. Add the chicken stock and simmer gently for another 5-10 minutes, until the parsnips are soft. Remove the thyme, and puree with a stick blender or a mouli. To make it really silky, push the puree through a sieve (tedious, but worth it). Stir in the lemon juice and cream, then return to the heat and warm through (don’t let it boil) before serving.

If you’re in the mood for more winter soups, check out my latest crop of recipes on


  1. June 18, 2019 / 3:01 am

    Love all those expressions – the expression I always found odd is “butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth” – and I would adore this soup – perfect for our wintery weather

    • lucycorry
      June 18, 2019 / 6:20 am

      Yes, that’s a great one!

  2. Sue Story
    June 18, 2019 / 6:10 am

    Funny that my family version of the saying was “it’s all turning to custard”

    • lucycorry
      June 18, 2019 / 6:20 am

      Ah, maybe I’ve had it wrong all these years! Now that I think of it the really hard part was explaining what custard was…

  3. June 19, 2019 / 4:59 pm

    I can remember two food expressions that really baffled me: “tomber dans les pommes” and “pour des prunes”. I now know that the first means to faint but nobody can tell me what the apples are doing there and the latter means for nothing or for peanuts and apparently dates back to the crusades in the form “se battre pour des prunes”. I’m not sure that I’m buying the crusades story, I think there might be salades involved.

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