Root Vegetable Soup with Poached Chicken, with carrot, parsnip and potato mash and pan-fried swede

Root Vegetable Soup with Poached Chicken, with carrot, parsnip and potato mash and pan-fried swede

Within a recent post I suggested trying the root vegetable soup with poached chicken, so I did. Pleased to say it was as good. On the other hand it wasn’t miles better. Still, thought I’d go with both recipes on here. Next time I’d use the chicken meat within a main course rather than the soup, keeping the latter as a starter instead.

As for the pan-fried swede (rutabaga) it’s only possible to cook swede that way if small or medium are bought. I could only buy a large one last week and, besides being an absolute brute to prep, the flesh was far too tough and fibrous. Better to boil it in chunks along with the carrots, parsnips and potatoes. And maybe mash it with the carrots. As for the marrowfat peas, okay, they do need to be soaked overnight. I just love ’em at this time of year. Especially in soups like this, and in Scotch Broth (if mutton is used it should be called Hotch Potch) – something I haven’t had in years.

Root Vegetable Soup with Poached Chicken, with carrot, parsnip and potato mash and pan-fried swede



  • 200g (7.05 oz) x onions, peeled, trimmed, halved and sliced in half again
  • 100g (5.29 oz) x carrots, peeled, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 x green part of leek, trimmed and thoroughly washed
  • 3 x celery stalks, washed, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 400g (14.11 oz) x chicken quarters, skin and excess fat removed and discarded, cut into thighs and drumsticks
  • 2 x garlic cloves, root end cut off
  • 2 x dried bay leaves, ripped
  • 20 x juniper berries
  • 4 x fresh sprigs thyme, rinsed
  • 4 x parsley stalks, rinsed
  • 1 x organic vegetable stock cube
  • 500ml (1.056 US pt lqd) x cold water


  • rapeseed or olive oil
  • 100g (3.52 oz) x leeks, white and pale green part only, sliced crossways into discs, washed thoroughly
  • 1 x small or medium swede/rutabaga, peeled, sliced crossways into 2 steaks about 1cm (less than ½ inch) in thickness
  • 200g (7.05 oz) x potatoes, scrubbed, any knobbly bits removed and discarded, and chopped roughly the same size as the carrots and parsnips
  • 100g (3.52 oz) x carrots, peeled, trimmed and roughly chopped, more to personal taste
  • 200g (7.05 oz) x parsnips, peeled, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • a little butter, for 2 of the mash, carrots and potatoes
  • a little single/light cream for 2 of the mash, parsnips and potatoes
  • seasoning, both sea salt and black peppercorns
  • mature/sharp Cheddar cheese, grated into the potato mash – optional
  • 100g (3.52 oz) x marrowfat peas, soaked overnight, drained several times and boiled separately until cooked

Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.



  • Put all ingredients into a large heavy-based saucepan on electric heat No 4 (out of 6) with a lid. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to No 2 and simmer for at least 30 minutes. Take off heat and allow to cool slightly before removing the chicken pieces and straining the stock through a metal colander into a suitable container. Rinse out saucepan, then strain the stock through a fine wire metal sieve. Retain one of the bay leaves and the 2 garlic cloves, removing their shells, and add to the stock.


  • In the meantime prep the leek. Put a heavy-based pan/skillet on heat No 2. Drizzle in some oil and add the leeks. Plonk on a lid and allow at least 15 minutes cooking time, initially. Take off lid, stir through, adding a little water if they look too dry, and continue to cook until starting to caramelise, stirring through occasionally.
  • (Only do this instruction if using small or medium swede) Put a heavy-based saucepan on heat No 2. When the pan is hot enough add a little oil. Place the swede/rutabaga steaks inside and clamp on a lid. Leave for 15 minutes, remove lid and flip them over. Continue to cook, without the lid, until a fork pierces them easily. Remove them, and when cool enough to do so slice them into batons. Return them to the pan about 10 minutes before serving the soup to get the sliced edge nicely golden.
  • If using a large swede prep as for the potatoes below and cook within the soup base.
  • Prep the potatoes and get them into the stock as they can discolour. Put on heat No 4. Add the carrots and parsnips as they are prepared. Put on a lid and bring to a boil, reducing heat to No 1 or 2 to simmer the veg until easily pierced with a fork. The parsnips will probably cook the quickest. When soft enough remove and add each vegetable to a separate and suitable bowl.
  • If you’re lucky enough to own a bain-marie then this is the time to use it. Get it piping hot to reheat the mash listed below. If not it’s possible to use small serving dishes (like in the photos), place them in a large saucepan with about 2.5cm (1 inch) of cold water, cover with a lid and put on heat No 3. Bring to boiling point and reduce heat to No 1. Check occasionally to make sure the water doesn’t boil dry. If a small knob of butter is placed on top of each mash when it melts the veg will be piping hot. Remember only to use suitable bowls that won’t crack when used in boiling water.
  • For the parsnips: mash them and add a little single/light cream and season with freshly ground sea salt and black pepper.
  • For the carrots: mash them and add a small knob of butter and season with salt and pepper.
  • For the potatoes: mash them and add a knob of butter, a little cream and season with salt and pepper.
  • Reheat the chicken pieces by placing them back into the soup base after the vegetables are cooked and removed. Keep on heat No 2 with a lid to make sure the chicken will be piping hot. Add the leeks to the soup base as well and keep on low heat until needed. Mash the garlic cloves into the base and remove the bay leaf before serving.
  • If using marrowfat peas then either cook to their pack’s instructions. Or add them to a large saucepan, cover with cold water, put on heat No 4 with a lid, bring to a boil, reduce heat to No 2 and simmer until cooked. It might not be the best method but it’s quick.


The photo above is a swede/rutabaga steak nicely golden on both sides, and soft when pierced with a fork.

All photographs within (Todas las fotografías dentro de) Feed the Piglet:
All rights reserved (© Todos los derechos reservados) – Copyright © Johnny H Hepburn


  1. Ok, I had to go to wikipedia both for marrowfat peas and for the swede (says in shame), but to my defense I have never used it, and have only eaten it in soup (I think). Anyway, it looks great, but if I had to choose I would definitely go for the vegetarian version (for a change..)!


    • I didn’t link to Wiki as there’s so little info re marrowfat peas. Maybe I should as there’s a photo at least. Rutabaga? Or are they called turnip in Spain? There seems to be much confusion.
      I’m with you, I’ll be sticking to the vegetarian version.


        • I think I must’ve replied to the wrong comment! If you read my next post it might help to explain things. It’s funny, in the Basque country they used to feed turnips to their milking cows! And wouldn’t have thought to eat them. I love their flavour so I’m curious as to what the Belgian’s do with their soups.


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