Tag Archives: vegetable soup

The Tale of Too Many Turnips

3 Jan

It’s the last night of our three-day New Year’s weekend and we decided earlier this afternoon that wanted to cook something fun–something that would allow us to hang around the kitchen, drinking wine (or even better yet, leftover champagne) and listening to Underground Garage on Sirius, all while purporting to be productive. The fridge was overflowing so I was sure there would be something exciting within. What I found was a lot of turnips. Three bunches to be exact–turnips that had survived our last CSA box and turnips that showed up in our latest shipment on Friday. The husband loves turnips and was excited by this turn of events. I don’t dislike turnips but I wasn’t nearly as intrigued as I would have been by a hidden stash of wild mushrooms or even a big bunch of kale (crazy, I know). We also had a bunch of potatoes (russet potatoes, small yellow-fleshed potatoes and red potatoes) courtesy of both our CSA box and overzealous Chanukah shopping, some giant leeks (CSA) and a plethora of yellow onions (again, Chanukah shopping). The answer to our turnip bounty or predicament, depending on who you asked, seemed to be soup. The onions would provide a good balance to the sweetness of the turnips and the potatoes, some heft and creaminess, helped along by some goat milk. The goat milk appeared as the result of a dinner party bread pudding and also needed a home. We would have way too much soup for two people but the leftovers could sustain us through a long week of being attached to our desks. And the best thing about soup is that it’s extremely conducive to drinking leftover champagne, half of bottle of which happened to be in the fridge, nestled alongside the turnips. Here’s what resulted from our holiday soup-venture:

Four Onion and Turnip Soup

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 cups mixed leeks, shallots and yellow onions, diced
  • 3 heaping cups peeled and cubed turnips
  • 3 heaping cups cubed yellow-fleshed potatoes (we didn’t peel ours but you may want to for a more appealing soup color)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (add more broth and/or water if needed)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup milk (I used goat)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 small bunches green onions, chopped
  • 1 handful of fennel fronds, chopped
  1. Heat the butter and oil in a soup pot over low to medium heat until the butter starts to foam
  2. Add the mixed onions, shallots and leeks and cook, stirring often, until the onion mix is softened but not browned
  3. Season the onion mix and then add the turnips and potatoes, stirring to coat them with the onions, olive oil and butter
  4. Cook the veggie mix for about 5 minutes and then add the broth and the wine
  5. Bring the soup to boil and then turn down to a simmer
  6. Cook the soup until the vegetables are soft and you can easily squish a potato on the side of the pot with your spoon (this will take about 30-45 minutes, depending on how young and tender your veggies are)
  7. Using a blender, puree the soup with the milk (if you have an immersion blender you can do this right in the pot–just be sure to take it off the heat first)
  8. Return the soup to the pot if you’ve used a blender and season to taste; reheat gently if necessary
  9. Heat the additional two teaspoons of olive oil (extra virgin is preferable) in a small saucepan
  10. Add the green onions and fennel fronds and saute just until they soften, then season to taste
  11. Serve the soup topped with the green onion/fennel garnish

p.s. If you’re feeling ambitious and/or too lazy to go to the store (as in my case), try making this easy oat and herb bread to go along with your soup. It comes from my first-ever and still-beloved vegetarian cookbook, Quick Vegetarian Pleasures by Jeanne Lemlin, and it’s yummy, healthy (especially if you sub in whole wheat pastry flour for the white flour) and pretty much impossible to screw up.

Herb Oat Bread from Quick Vegetarian Pleasures

  • 1 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup unbleached flour (I replaced this with whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour (I used 1/4 cup unbleached flour–you could probably use all whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/8 teaspoon crumbed dried rosemary
  • Note: I had various fresh herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme, basil) leftover from holiday cooking so I used about a handful of minced fresh herbs instead
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/4 cups plain low-fat yogurt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F; butter and flour a 9×5 inch loaf pan (I used parchment paper instead)
  2. Place the oats in a blender or food processor and grind until almost powdery; pour into a large bowl and mix in the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and herbs
  3. In a small saucepan, combine the oil and honey and heat until just blended; remove from the heat and stir in the yogurt and beaten eggs
  4. Pour in the flour mixture and stir until just evenly moistened (do not over-beat); scrape into the prepared pan
  5. Bake 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean (if the top of the bread begins to darken before it finishes cooking, lay a sheet of foil over the top of the pan and bake until done)
  6. Cool on a wire rack 10 minutes before removing from the pan; cool completely before slicing

Beans Bathe in the Mediterranean

19 Mar

Sunny California has been not so sunny lately.  This puts me in the mood for soup. Last week I had grand plans for said soup and devised many delicious scenarios in my head. But after a day of shopping for the house, which ended in getting caught in one of our many rainstorms as of late, I just wanted to be in my house, in my PJs, with a glass of wine. Luckily soup lends itself well to random ingredients harvested from the fridge and pantry.

I used Mark Bittman’s basic bean soup recipe (published earlier this month in the NYT Magazine) for proportion and cooking times (or rather, I tried to use his cooking times. I had some stubborn beans). And from there, I improvised.  There’s really no reason to stick to the recipe when it comes to soup unless you have everything and it sounds perfect to you as is.

My take on the basic bean soup included gigante beans (giant beans), a favorite of mine from our days in Cyprus, and some ingredients at home in the sunny Med: fennel, garlic, rosemary and spring onion. This is probably one of the easiest things you could ever make.

1 1/2 cups dried gigante beans (you could also use lima beans or any other kind of white bean, even chickpeas)

1 fennel bulb, chopped reserve the fronds for garnish)

2 carrots, chopped

1 onion, chopped and two spring onions (or one small leek), chopped

4 cloves garlic, smashed

1 spring fresh rosemary

2 bay leaves

1 Parmesan rind (optional)

10 cups water

Salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients but salt in a stockpot. Bring to a boil over high heat, lower the heat, cover and simmer until soft. This will take at least one hour and could take more depending on your beans. With the gigante beans,  cooking time was closer to two hours. Season and garnish with extra virgin olive oil and chopped fennel fronds.

p.s.  This makes a great lunch the next day. But if you reheat it on the stove and happen to have more beans than liquid left, you should probably not leave the kitchen to catch up on some work and lose track of time. Bean char is remarkably hard to get off a pot and has an incredible ability to permeate the entire house with its smell.