Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tastes Remarkably Not Like Dirt

6 am conference call tomorrow notwithstanding, things are looking up. I discovered that I "misplanned" (sort of my fault, sort of our benefits provider's fault) my FSA which means Santa's bringing me new sunglasses. And new glasses. Maybe even two pairs of glasses. There's a lot of money left in that FSA and not many weeks left in the year. 

I picked out these sunglasses which look ridiculous and awesome. I love them. They are so glam and absurd. I think I partly love them because I am 100% sure that every boyfriend I've ever had would absolutely hate them. I mean, I am totally channeling my inner horsefly here, or maybe Harry Caray. Somehow, knowing that makes wearing these all the more delightful.

Leave it to me to pick out the most expensive frames in the store. The description on the website says these glasses "are for style makers with discerning taste and an appreciation for exquisite details and unmistakable beauty." All I can say is vision insurance is totally worth that $5 a month or whatever I pay.

I tried on some Warby Parkers as well and think I'm going to throw my bets in on these and these

And then I channeled my inner Polish peasant and made turnip soup.

Seems logical to me. 

As you might have surmised, the farm box presented me with about a pound and a half of white turnips, greens attached. The last time this happened, I tried to make turnip gratin. It was fine but retained way too much of that "fresh like dirt" taste turnips sometimes have. I thought it was worth trying something new.

What I learned in my recipe searching is that there are really not very many promising-sounding turnip recipes. The poor, unloved turnip.

It's really cold here in San Francisco. It's hat-gloves-scarf weather. It got down to at least 45 degrees today. I might have to turn on the radiators.

I love this climate. 

Tonight was perfect soup weather so I crossed my fingers and got to it. In the interest of full disclosure, I feel I must tell you that I hedged my bets by eating the remainder of the other night's Gruyere before I got started. You can't be too careful with your stomach and as I've been balancing on the precipice of cranky all day (see previous post), this seemed like no time to play chicken with my blood sugar. Plus, after all the glasses shopping was complete, it was quite late in the evening. 

by Deborah Madison with Edward Espé Brown
The Greens Cookbooks

Yield: Serves Four to Six


None is needed for this soup
(Why does the recipe list things you don't need? So odd.)

1 1/2 pounds small turnips (about 1 to 2 inches across), weighed without their greens
5 tablespoons butter, in all
2 to 3 leeks, white parts only (about 8 ounces), sliced
6 branches thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
(If you use fresh thyme, take it off the stalk first. Trust me.)
4 cups milk
White or black pepper
About 2 to 3 cups turnip greens
Fresh chopped thyme for garnish (optional)


Peel the turnips (thickly, if they are large and mature) and slice them into rounds about 1/4 inch thick. 

Peeling these suckers is tough. They are quite slippery. More than once, the turnip flew out of my hand while peeling. It reminded me of that escargot scene from Pretty Woman. Except I was wearing sweats instead of a fancy dress and no semi-handsome millionaire was in the vicinity.

Let's discuss once again how much I love my mandoline. 1/4 slices. Perfect.

Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil; then add 2 teaspoons salt and the turnips. Cover the pot and cook for 1 minute; then drain.

Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a soup pot with 1/2 cup water. Add the leeks, the blanched turnips, the thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt. Stew them, covered, over medium-low heat for 5 minutes, and then add the milk. 

See how I didn't remove the thyme from the branches? Don't do that! Otherwise you will be picking milky thyme stalks from your soup and trying to get the partly cooked leaves off. I should know.
Slowly heat it without bringing it to a boil, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the turnips are completely tender. (I think this took about 10 minutes.)

Beginning slow heating. This failed rapidly. It boiled. It boiled over, actually. Oops.

You can see the skin on the soup because I boiled it. More than once. It all went in the blender anyway, and I don't think the boiling made a big difference, just in case you try this and let the soup boil, too.

Cool the soup briefly; then purée it in a blender. If necessary, thin it with additional milk or water. Season to taste with salt, if needed, and freshly ground pepper.

Hot soup means taking that plug out of the blender lid and putting a dishtowel over the top, so steam can escape. Unless you want soup splattered all over your kitchen. I mean, if you're into that kind of thing...

Sort through the turnip greens and remove any that are bruised or especially tough looking, and wash them. 

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter (I only used one) in a pan, add the turnip greens, and cook them over medium heat until they are tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 

I deviated a bit from the recipe here. I chiffonnaded my greens before sauteeing, kind of like how I usually treat collard greens. It was a good call.

Even though I only used one tablespoon of butter instead of the two called for, the greens were pretty greasy. I let them drain for a bit on a paper towel while I seasoned the blended soup.

Remove the cooked greens to a cutting board and chop them, roughly or fine, as you prefer (or, chop them in advance like I did); then add them to the soup and serve. Or garnish with fresh chopped thyme.

This soup was surprisingly delicious which is good because I obviously have a lot of it in my fridge right now. Definitely very milky. If you do not like milk, you will not like this soup. I might consider replacing a cup of the milk with broth next time just for a little more depth of flavor. The turnips were not bitter at all, and the greens were so delicious I ate them all (even the ones I didn't need for garnish on this bowl), with my fingers, right off the paper towel. If you are ever presented with turnip greens, you should saute them. You will not be disappointed. 

No comments: