Recipe: Parsley root soup from The Grove, an earthy and richly textured starter
By Ben Heaton
PREP TIME: 20 minutes
COOK TIME: 1 hour 25 minutes
2 tbsp olive oil
3½ lb parsley roots, peeled and diced
3 celery ribs, diced
½ small fennel, diced
½ small Spanish onion, diced
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 cup dry white wine
3 cartons vegetable broth, about 10¾ cups
1 cup parsley, chopped
1 cup 35 per cent cream
Salt and pepper
¾ lb double-smoked bacon, diced
1 shallot, finely diced
2 sprigs thyme, finely chopped
2 sage leaves, finely chopped
½ rosemary sprig, finely chopped
⅓ cup sherry vinegar
⅓ cup maple syrup
SNAILS AND GARNISH
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Handful of parsley leaves
1. To prepare soup, coat a large pot with olive oil and set over medium heat. When hot, add parsley root, celery, fennel, onion and garlic. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes until translucent. Deglaze pan by slowly adding wine and scraping up and stirring in any brown bits from the bottom. Stir in broth. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and let simmer about 30 minutes until parsley root is very tender. Remove from heat.
2. To prepare relish, cook bacon for about 10 minutes in a pan set over medium-low heat until slightly crisp. Remove and strain fat. Reserve. Place 1 tbsp bacon fat back into a pan and heat over low. Add shallot, thyme, sage and rosemary. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes until shallot is translucent. Add bacon. Increase heat to medium. Add sherry vinegar. Deglaze pan again. Cook until reduced by half. Stir in maple syrup. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes until most of the liquid evaporates. Place in a bowl and let cool.
3. When soup has cooled slightly, add parsley and cream. Using a blender or food processor, purée until smooth. Strain through a sieve into a large bowl or back into pot. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Add garlic, then snails. Cook for 2 minutes until warm. Divide snails into 4 large serving bowls. Tear baguette and add to remaining butter in pan. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 3 minutes until toasted. Add a dollop of bacon relish to each bowl. Reheat soup if needed, then pour overtop. Garnish with bread and parsley leaves.
Thinly slice parsley root and fry the slices in a little oil at a low temperature. They make great chips and pair well with the soup.
Ben Heaton was born in Yorkshire, raised in Whitby and trained in Manchester and London. He spent six years in some of Toronto’s better kitchens—One, Colborne Lane and Globe Bistro—before opening The Grove on Dundas West. The restaurant, co-owned with Richard Reyes, is an ode to Heaton’s motherland. Almost everything he cooks is inspired by the simple, honest English dishes he ate as a kid. Heaton’s speciality is to spin new flavours into faithfully Anglo fare like blood pudding, mushy peas, and whipped pork and pickled onion on toast. His parsley root soup mixes the salty sweetness of bacon, the saline chewiness of snails and the earthy punch of parsley root. It’s a richly textured beauty, almost painterly in its execution. The buttery fried bread bits deepen the dish’s soul-sustaining warmth.