Every now and then you taste something that knocks you out – in a good way. Recently at a cooking class with Napa food writer and master gardener, Janet Fletcher, a fresh turnip soup was presented that took my breath away. Its color was vibrant, its texture silky. And as we transition from winter to spring, this is just the right dish to satisfy the soul.
Turnips are a “starch” vegetable, but provide only one third the amount of calories as an equal amount of potatoes. Turnips are an excellent source of vitamin C, fiber, potassium and magnesium. In addition, they balance calcium in the body, help ease asthma and relieve sore throats (which seem to be going around right now.) Turnips also reduce cholesterol levels and protect against heart disease. Turnip greens are even more nutrition dense than the root. The greens provide an excellent source of vitamins A, B6, C, E, folic acid and fiber.
Turnip Soup with Greens (adapted) – Serves 6
Most often, turnips are sold in stores without the greens attached. Therefore, the best option is to buy them from your farmers’ market. If you store them for any length of time, detach the greens from the root and keep in a separate bag until you plan to use. Because our farmers market is only open May-October, I originally bought the roots detached from the greens. For my first batch, I substituted watercress for color and added flavor. (You could use spinach, too.) Watercress is super high in antioxidants which help fight cancers and detox the liver. (Dr. Perricone lists it as his top superfood!) I also added miso in place of salt for an extra dose of B vitamins along with enzymes that aid digestion.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil, plus more for garnish
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 pounds turnips, peeled and diced
1/2 cup arborio rice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups homemade chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 pound turnip green leaves (no stems), or other greens like watercress, lightly chopped
1-1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, plus a few sprigs for garnish
1 tablespoon organic white miso (my favorite brand is SouthRiver)
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large pot over moderately low heat. Add onion and saute until soft, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 minute to release its fragrance. Add turnips and rice, lightly season with salt and pepper and stir to coat with seasonings. Add 3 cups broth, bring to a simmer, then cover and adjust heat to maintain a gentle simmer.
Cook 15 minutes. Stir in turnip greens, cover and simmer until turnips, greens and rice are soft, about 5 more minutes. Stir in dill. Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth, in batches if necessary.
Return to pot and stir in remaining broth to achieve a soup-like consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning. (This is when I added the miso.)
Reheat to serve. Serve in warm bowls, garnishing each portion with a drizzle of olive oil and sprig of dill.
Janet’s original recipe can be found in her book: Fresh From the Farmers’ Market which has an abundance of additional seasonal offerings.
This recipe is part of Diet, Dessert and Dogs Wellness Weekend