Nigella Lawson’s spiced parsnip and spinach soup recipe

Spiced parsnip soups were a staple of my childhood and teens but this, while inspired by that memory, is very different. It’s rich (though without the butter that was the hallmark of the time), sweet and a glorious snooker-baize green. The spinach improves the texture and taste, adding a robust earthiness, and which, once added, seems the obvious partner to the more mutedly earthy parsnips.

parsnip and spinach soup
Louise Hagger


1kg parsnips
2 fat cloves garlic, peeled
2 litres chicken or vegetable stock
1 tsp garam masala
300g frozen organic leaf spinach
Lots of freshly ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
A dash of single cream, to serve (optional)

  1. Peel the parsnips and cut them into equal-sized pieces that will cook in about the same time: that’s to say, leave the skinny twigs as they are, and cut the wider bits into smaller pieces. Cut each garlic clove into three, then drop these and the prepared parsnips into a large saucepan (with a lid). Cover with stock, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat slightly, put the lid on and leave to simmer with a certain amount of brio for 15 minutes, or until the parsnips are soft.
  2. Stir in the garam masala, add the frozen spinach, then put the lid back on and cook for 5 minutes, by which time the spinach should be thawed and hot.
  3. Take the pan off the heat to cool slightly and, using a stick blender, carefully blend the soup until smooth. Add a generous amount of freshly ground nutmeg and season to taste, adding a little more garam masala if liked. You may need to add water as this soup does tend to thicken as it stands. Serve with a swirl of cream, if wished.

Food styling: Emily Kidd. Prop styling: Luis Peral. Photo assistant & retouching: Sophie Bronze. Food styling assistant: Susanna Unsworth. Recipes taken from Nigella Express, At My Table, Feast, Simply Nigella, Nigella Christmas, Cook Eat Repeat. For more, visit