A few months back, I started planning what I’d be writing this spring in the Food & Wine department. One of the things on the list was MAPLE SYRUP. Being born and running wild in the beautiful province of New Brunswick lets you in on my connection. The province is known for producing really, really nice people, potatoes (have ya heard of McCain Superfries?) and well, maple syrup.
New Brunswick is the only official province in Canada that is bilingual (fun fact) and is also known for its massive Nor’easters. Think Yetis and snowshoes. Despite this high frequency of crazy weather, every spring, sure as sugar the maple trees release their sugar.
I always get a chuckle when I tell my maple syrup story, so here goes: Many moons ago, on a starry moonlit night, an owl whoot whooted from his branch in the orchard as he looked down at two University of New Brunswick Forestry Students who were apprenticing with Uncle Vinny. They were receiving instructions about tapping maple trees, when out came, a screech so terrifying that the owl is still on the missing persons watch list.
First-hand details remain to this day a secret, but some bits of the story have been whispered about at my family get-togethers. During one of those idyllic family din-dins, wine glass in hand I found myself beside Uncle Vinny. We started talking about his farm and how he manages to get it all done. Since I was young and single at the time, a fact that usually directed all my conversations, I asked Uncle Vinny if his students were cute. He looked at me with big eyes and said, “Why would it matter if they are cute? They can’t even tell a maple tree from their behinds!” That’s typical dinner table conversation right there.
I now live in the way too civilized and serious province of Ontario where we have to be reminded that french fries come from potatoes (I’m talking to you, McDonald’s) and where the most global thing we think about is the 2 inches in front of our face. I’ve been missing a simpler time my misspent youth seems like a Little House on the Prairie re-run.
Winters can be hard for a maritime-dreamer as myself. The calendar may say APRIL, but we always get a crazy snow storm. Everyone and thing are going cuckoo for Spring. I thought, ‘just cause you ain’t in the maple forests anymore, Miss, don’t mean you can’t see for the trees – Create Your Own Spring Gurl!’
That’s right buttercup, I gathered up some soothing and tasty veggies and created this soup. MAPLE, CARDAMOM, APPLE + PARSNIP SOUP AND A SPRING WINE PAIRING. This was one of the most simple things I’ve ever created. I want you to be prepared for how seriously easy it is. Chop and measure everything first or else this will get so ahead of you.
Maple, Cardamon, Apple & Parsnip Soup Plus Wine Pairing
- 1 tbsp Butter unsalted
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 shallots finely chopped or diced
- 4-5 apples royal Gala, honeycrisp, or Fuji; peeled, seeded, and diced
- 2 pounds parsnip typically this will equal 2 bags. Peeled and diced
- 1 tbsp cardamon
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 4 cups vegetable stock or broth
- Sea Salt to taste
- In a large skillet or Dutch oven pan, over medium heat melt butter and olive oil until a light foam forms on the surface.
- Add shallot and cook until tender. Approx. 3 minutes.
- Add parsnip and cook, stirring occasionally. Approx 5 mintues.
- Add sea salt
- Add apples, maple syrup, and sprinkle with cardamon, then stir to combine.
- Cook gently for 5 - 6 minutes
- Add stock/broth and bring to a boil for 1 minute.
- Turn heat to low and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes.
- Let cool.
- Add to blender and puree until smooth. Add water or broth to create your texture preference.
- Serve with an apple slice and a little sprinkle of cardamon.
The mystery of the UNB Forestry students still pops into the headlines from time to time. Uncle Vincent taught me a really great lesson that winter night long ago.
To sticky situations and sweet solutions,
Wallace River Revival