So, I found myself with an ungodly number of turnips. Now usually I would get a vat of greens going, with a little smoked oddity thrown in, and then add handfuls of wedged turnips somewhere near the end for a delightful addition to just about any meal. But alas, there I was, full of turnips and no greens in sight. What’s a girl to do? Turnip soup of course! I thought for a millisecond about roasting them, but they were a little larger than I like and those tend to be a little bitter I’ve found. Unfortunately, roasting sometimes brings out that bitterness in my experience (did you know your genes determine whether you find turnips to be intolerably bitter? Seriously!). So, soup it was. And boy, did it turn out good!
The recipe makes about 8 full cups and makes use of about 1/2 of a large potato and a blender to produce creaminess without tons of heavy cream or making a roux. A swirl of roasted walnut oil and some chives as a garnish make for a good presentation and seem to simultaneously liven it up and soften it. A drizzle of browned butter and tiny croutons works too. If your turnips are more bitter than you care for, try a pinch of salt if you’re salt is not optimized or try a tiny pinch of sugar, although salt is purported to be better at decreasing bitterness: http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/07/salt-trumps-bitter/?_r=0). The smaller the turnip , the less bitter it will be. That being said, I’ve made this soup with large turnips before and only ended up with the slightest pungent note at the tail end, somewhat like cabbage, and it was a great contrast to the potato-like start. But hey, maybe my genetic blessings let me love the ‘lowly’ turnip!
If you’re going full-tilt paleo, try using Japanese Sweet Potato, White Yams, or Classic Sweet Potatoes–NOT the orangey ‘yams/sweet potatoes’. I have access to Japanese Sweet Potatoes and they work fine for thickening soups without being overtly sweet like they are when roasted and become caramelized. Even if you use a sweeter potato I don’t think it would hurt here, especially if your turnips are bigger and possibly prone to bitterness (I’ll try it next time and report back). Skip the cream and butter if you’d like (tell me you wouldn’t??), more of the turnip flavor will shine so be aware. A great way to change this soup up is to add other veggies such as carrot, celery, celery root, parsnip, or parsley root. I love the taste of turnips, so I like to let them shine on their own. You can also try substituting cannellini beans (nutty, earthy, smooth) or great northern beans (grainier, nutty) or navy beans (mild, smooth) for the potato.
Creamy Turnip Soup
- 24 ounces cleaned, peeled, and cubed turnips (about 4-5 medium or 8 small/baby turnips)
- 6 ounces Russet, or other starchy potato (see note above), cubed (peel if you like or if it’s a sweet potato)
- 6-8 cups filtered water
- 2 tsp organic paste chicken bouillon, I use Better than Bouillon unless I have frozen homemade stock available (http://www.superiortouch.com/retail/products/better-than-bouillon/organic-bases). Using your own stock assures quality and ingredients but sometimes ya just don’t have any in the freezer!
- 1/4 c. heavy cream
- 2 TBSP salted butter
- 6 quart pot
- Place peeled and cubed turnips and potato in 6 quart pot. Cover with filtered water until water level is about 1/2 inch above turnips (about 6 cups or so).
- Bring to a medium boil over medium high heat. Add 2 tsp paste bouillon (enough to help flavor but not overpower the turnip, adjust as you see fit).
- Boil turnips and potato until a fork easily pierces the centers of both and they are mostly translucent. Do not overcook. They should not fall apart. Do not drain liquid.
- Allow to cool enough to handle in a blender.
- Working in small batches (so blender does not overflow and a smoother texture is obtained), place turnip-potato mixture and some of its juices in the blender. Leave lid slightly ajar (not too much!) for steam to escape and process until silky smooth (you may need to run each batch for a couple of minutes depending on your blender).
- Transfer smooth soup back to pot.
- Temper the 1/4 cup heavy cream by slowly adding a small amount of soup to it until it is about the same temperature of the soup in the pot. Then slowly add the tempered cream back to the soup in the pot and whisk in. Add butter and stir to incorporate. By now you should have a subtle, lovely shimmer to your creamy soup. The cream and butter also seem to mellow the turnip a tad for those with less pungent palates.
- Taste and season as necessary with salt and/or sugar (see notes above).
- Dress with a swirl of roasted walnut oil (Limerock is nice http://www.limerockorchards.com/product/small-roasted-walnut-oil/) and snippets of chives, browned butter and teenie croutons, fried or caramelized onions, sautéed turnip greens (for the life of me I can’t cook those!), or plain ol’ cracked black pepper. Each slightly changes what side of the turnip is presented. So many bowls, so little time!
**I think letting the soup cool a tad mellows the pungency of the turnip (Not exactly room temperature, but you shouldn’t be blowing on it–like Goldilocks…”not too hot, not too cold”). If you’ve got someone in your house that doesn’t love turnips, this may be an option.**