Turnip Soup with Greens from Greens
I have recently become a little bit addicted to cookbooks. Awhile ago, I realized (duh) that I could check them out from the library, and decided that was an excellent way to test drive a book to see if I would really cook from it before shelling out the big bucks. Of course, what I discovered is that I’m very likely to fall in love with a book, even if the likelihood it would make its way off the shelf often is nill. That’s what happened with The Greens Cookbook, by Deborah Madison and Edward Espe Brown.
When I decided to buy this beautiful book, though, I found that the currently available addition has been redesigned. I really wanted the lovely, iconic original edition, so I put it on the way-too-long list in my head of Books I Want, and kind of forgot about it. Until I saw a perfect condition first edition at Powell’s Home and Garden in Portland. I practically crowed with delight. The book was mine.
And I’m pleased to say I’ve actually cooked from it. We got a bunch of creamy white Tokyo turnips from our CSA a few weeks ago, and I wasn’t sure what to do with them. I didn’t wanted roasted root vegetables again, so I perused through the indexes of all my cookbooks, and settled on The Greens’ recipe for Turnip Soup with Greens. I had a few misgivings, because, well, turnip soup just sounds like sad food. But I put my trust in Deborah, and I was not disappointed.
This soup is creamy without being heavy or overly rich. You cook the turnip greens and add them at the end, and the greens add texture and just a slightly bitter flavor. It also makes you feel very virtuous for not wasting the greens. I served this simple soup with some grilled chicken and dense, crusty wheat bread, but this would be a complete meal even without the meat.
We didn’t have a lot of turnips, so I cut this recipe in half. It made just enough for two very full bowls of soup. And considering how many leftovers we are usually contending with in this house, it was nice not to have any for a change.
Turnip Soup with Greens
Adapted from The Greens Cookbook
We used white Tokyo turnips, but I’m sure any kind will do. Tokyo turnips are especially buttery, and that flavor was very much enjoyed here, so I would recommend not switching out the butter in the recipe for the olive oil or another fat. But, as always, you can do what you like.
- about 3/4 pounds small turnips, with their greens (weigh them without their greens; we had four small turnips)
- 3 tablespoons butter, separated
- 1 leek, rinsed and sliced
- a few sprigs of fresh thyme, stems removed, or about 1/4 teaspoon dried
- 2 cups milk
Peel and slice the turnips. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add the turnips (with a bit of salt). Cook the turnips for only about a minute, then drain and set aside.
Melt half the butter in the soup pot with about 1/4 cup water. Add the leeks, turnips, thyme, and a generous pinch of salt. Let the vegetables cook, covered, over medium-low heat, for about five minutes. Stir in the milk and let it heat slowly, over medium low heat. Be careful not to let the milk come to a boil. Cook for another few minutes, or until the turnips are tender when pierced with a fork.
Remove the soup from the heat and let it cool slightly before pureeing the soup, either in a blender or food processor, or with an immersion blender. You can thin it with a bit of extra milk or water, if you’d like. Season with salt, and pepper if you like it. Set the soup aside.
Rinse the turnip greens and discard any that look bad. Melt the rest of the butter in a skillet, add the greens, and cook them for just a few minutes, stirring occasionally. When they are just wilted, remove them to a cutting board and give them a rough chop before stirring them into the soup. Serve, garnished with thyme, if you’re fancy.