On an early morning cycle ride it was beautiful to see the countryside cloaked in white frost, as if a huge white silk tablecloth had been dropped from the sky.
Full winter kit including woolly gloves and hat were needed as I made my way around country lanes trying to lose the excesses of the festive season.
On these winter rides, I find myself thinking about something delicious to eat on my return: a steaming bowl of soup, a casserole or a thick toasted cheese sandwich to take away the chill from my bones and to stop the gurgling of an empty belly.
The frost not only made for a memorable ride, but it has also helped with the flavour of our local parsnips.
The lower temperature turns some of the starch into sugar, which makes them taste sweeter.
Parsnips are full of vitamins and minerals as well as containing antioxidants, which are said to reduce inflammation in your muscles.
Instead of roasting them to accompany your Sunday roast, try them in this wonderful spicy soup.
With a crusty roll this soup is hearty enough for lunch and certainly warmed me up after my ride.
6 parsnips (peeled and chopped)
1 onion finely-chopped
1 leek finely-chopped
2 sticks celery chopped
4 cloves garlic finely-chopped
Small knob of ginger (peeled and chopped)
1 teaspoon cumin seed
Half-teaspoon fennel seed
1 dried bird’s eye chilli
500ml vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the onion, leek, celery and garlic. Cook for four minutes without colouring.
2. Add the parsnips,ginger, cumin, fennel and chilli and cook for another three minutes.
3. Add the stock, milk and saffron and bring to the boil.
4. Simmer for 15 minutes and check that the parsnips are soft.
5. Add the cream and then season to taste.
6. Liquidise and check the seasoning. If you like a fine textured soup, pass through a fine sieve.