Roasted Parsnip Soup with Mussels & Hazels

Ever find yourself wandering aimlessly around Fallon & Byrne or the supermarket aisle with 'What will I make for dinner??' circling around your cranium. That was me yesterday, I was there for so long that the security guard started following me....I don't blame him -I was muttering under my breath and I had a slightly pained look on my face. Eventually I pulled myself together...protein, start with protein I said (under my breath). I side stepped my way from the Toulouse sausages past the venison -landing my feet and furrowed brow at the fish counter. Okay fish can be pricey and I am usually on a pretty tight budget -'Why were you in Fallon & Byrne?' I hear you cry....Simply put it's a place of inspiration and when it comes to quality protein at a reasonable price it ain't bad, oh and did I mention fresh fish! My eyes scanned the fishies and when I saw the mussels I had a flash back to the Observer Food Monthly magazine....Nigel Slater (my secret culinary crush -I don't fancy him so much as his food) had a recipe for soup with mussels and hazelnuts -bingo. I couldn't remember if it was celeriac or parsnip though...I decided was actually cauliflower! Nigels Recipe I have no doubt it is delicious with cauliflower but here follows the parsnip version of events....

What you need;      Serves 3 very hungry / 4 not so hungry peeps
  • 1kg mussels -scrubbed and beards removed (tap any that don't close during the washing- if they still don't close these should be discarded)
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 medium sized parsnips peeled and chopped into chunks
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic smashed
  • 4 medium sized potatoes -peeled and chopped into chunks
  • 2 hand fulls of hazelnuts pre-roasted or not (see below)
What you need to do;
  • Turn oven on to 200'C / Gas 6
  • When ready chuck your parsnips with some olive oil on a tray and roast for 15-20 mins or until browning at edges
  • In the meantime sweat your onion and garlic in some butter over a medium heat
  • If you have bought hazels in their skins (much cheaper than already roasted) simply put them on a dry skillet for 5-10 mins on a medium heat -keep an eye as they can burn easily. When done wrap in a tea towel and rub the skins off. To crush wrap in a tea towel and bash with a rolling pin
  • Get your cleaned mussels on -put in a pan with 300mls of water, bay leaf and peppercorns
  • Put a lid on the mussels and bring to the boil steam for a few mins until the shells have opened (any that haven't opened should be discarded -as they were dead before you started)
  • Add your spud to the onion and garlic 
  • Set your mussels aside strain the cooking liquid and pour into your spuds et al.
  • When your parsnips have roasted chuck them into the pot
  • You'll need to add more liquid to cook all the veg -the amount depends on how thick you want your soup to be....if unsure see what it's like when you've whizzed it up and you can always add more
  • Simmer your veg. until the potatoes are softened -whizz with a stick blender taste and season
  • To serve ladle into hot bowls, pop some mussels on top and sprinkle over some crushed hazels- delicious with these easy peasy bread sticks from Lorraine Pascale Bread Stix