Parsnip, White Bean and Lemon Soup with Basil and Walnut Pesto

Parsnip, White Bean and Lemon Soup with Basil and Walnut Pesto

January. Post-Christmas blues. That time of year for new beginnings, resolutions, intentions. That time of year when it feels coldest. Proper mid-winter vibes. I struggle in January. New year beginnings make sense in theory, but starting something new in mid-season and mid-winter has never really made sense to me. Spring feels far in the distance, a fleck of possibility, but for me, it's when new year begins. When you can begin to smell its approach in the air. The change is tangible. The days are slowly becoming longer, bringing fresh energy. That is when, for me, intentions emerge and plans form.

This recipe offers a little comfort in that in-between space, when there's still a way to go. The sweetness of parsnips cut through with a citrus hit of preserved lemon. Preserved lemons always instantly transport me to Morocco. I love their perfumed sweetness and the intensely lemon twang. A little hit of sunshine, zestiness and warmth in a grey month. I’ve drizzled through a swirl of fresh basil pesto. I keep the pesto a little on the oily side. It doesn’t need to be too thick. But it’s a personal preference. I’ve used walnuts in this recipe. Full of antioxidants, creamy and earthy flavour.

Parsnip, White Bean and Lemon Soup with Basil and Walnut Pesto


For the soup

4 medium sized parsnips, sliced into 1cm thick half moons

½ white onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 litre vegetable stock

1-2 preserved lemons (depending on size and personal preference), finely chopped

500g cooked cannellini beans

Olive oil

For the pesto

1 large bunch fresh basil

1 handful whole walnuts

1 clove garlic, minced

Juice of half a fresh lemon

2 tbsp grated parmesan

3 tbsp olive oil


In a pan, add a splash of olive and heat. Add the onion and cook on a medium – gentle heat for 5 minutes. Add the parsnips and cook for a further five minutes.

Add the garlic and preserved lemon and cook for 1 – 2 minutes.

Add the stock and gently simmer until the parsnips begin to soften. Add the cannellini beans and heat through.

Blitz to a smooth puree in a blender. Add a little extra water if needed to loosen the texture.

For the pesto

Whizz all of the ingredients in a food processor until it reaches the consistency you like.

Ladle the soup into bowls and drizzle with the pesto.