Turnips Part Deux: This Time It’s Delicious

17 Jun

It’s odd, yet also fitting, that a turnip would awake me from my blogging slumber. The last time I posted, I triumphantly shared a tale of conquering the wild turnip, pureeing it into a healthy and tasty soup. But I wasn’t convinced. The color was a bit too brown and the taste was good but not “I can’t wait to make this again” good. Mainly I was happy to 1) have the turnips out of the house and 2) have created something that was farther toward the palatable side of the scale than the garbage disposal side.  When turnips made another appearance in our CSA (community supported agriculture) box, I, perhaps subconsciously, nudged them toward the back of the fridge. Turnips are hearty; there was no need to deal with them right away. Two weeks passed and another box arrived on our doorstep, brimming with vegetable surprises. And turnips. More turnips. Now I had five plump turnips staring me in the face, daring me to let them go bad. I spent the next few days brainstorming.  Soup seemed like the best option.  Soup is a forgiving canvas. There’s always something you can do–add a new flavor, add some water, add a topping–to recover from a misstep.   Once I had decided upon soup, my mind wandered east. My last turnip soup, while flavorful, just wasn’t that exciting.  It needed something to pump it up, something that would turn my turnip ambivalence to turnip appreciation.  After considering Indian curry and Thai curry, I continued east until I landed in Japan.  Turnips can have a sweet, delicate flavor and Japanese food is also delicately flavored.  It seemed like a good match. Plus, I could use miso and bonito to add a savory counterbalance and keep the soup firmly out of the sweet zone that root vegetables can often move into.  Finally, it gave me something to do with the small bag of fava beans we also received in the box–not enough to use as the main component in a dish but perfect to inhabit a wasabi puree garnish.

The result? A tasty turnip soup that I would happily make again.  Unlike the past two years, it seems that we’ll actually have a real summer so I don’t know when I’ll see turnips again. But when they come, I’ll be ready.

Turnip Miso Soup with Wasabi Puree

8 c light vegetable broth (you can use a box but look for one that’s lighter, more in the vein of a chicken stock)
1/3 heaping cup white miso
Handful bonito
Fish sauce to taste

5 turnips, peeled and cubed
1 small head cauliflower, cut into small chunks
Thumb sized piece of ginger, minced
One white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp canola oil
3/4 c silken tofu
Few tablespoons mirin
2 tsp rice vinegar
Additional fish sauce to taste
Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

Wasabi Puree
1/2 c shelled fava beans
1 tsp canola oil
1 spring onion
3 cloves garlic
Few tablespoons silken tofu
Dash rice wine vinegar
Big squeeze wasabi paste (I used the prepared wasabi in the tube; you could also mix your own from powder)

Chives and sesame oil to garnish
Make the Broth
1) Bring broth to boil
2) Add bonito
3) Turn off heat and steep 5 min and then strain
4) Mix miso with bit of water and add to broth
5) Add few dashes of fish sauce to taste and season with fresh pepper (add salt as well if you think it needs it, though fish sauce is quite salty)
6) Set broth aside

Make the Soup
1) Sauté ginger, garlic and onion in 1 tbsp canola oil til softened
2) Add cubed turnips and chopped cauliflower
3) Season with salt and pepper
4) Add broth, bring to boil
5) Lower to simmer and let cook 30 min
6) Take the soup off the heat and let it cool a bit, then puree it in a blender with the silken tofu
7) Put back in pot, season with mirin, rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, salt and pepper

Make the Wasabi Puree
1) Sauté garlic and onion in 1 tsp canola oil
2) When softened, add the shelled fava beans and stir to coat
3)Add a bit of water, cover and simmer 10 min
4) Uncover and simmer 10 more min; add more water if needed
5) Take off heat and purée with wasabi, tofu and dash rice wine vinegar
6) Season with salt and pepper

Top soup with dollops of fava bean purée, chives and bit of sesame oil

Note: Fava beans only show up in the spring so you could try something else for the puree in other season. I think avocado would be good as long as you add some liquid so it’s thin enough–if you wind up with a guacamole-like texture, it will sink to the bottom of your soup.


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