January 14, 2010

Golden Turnip Soup

I knew that joining a CSA over the summer/fall would expose me to a lot of seasonal produce that I wasn't used to cooking with. An unfortunate complication, however, was that if I didn't know how to prepare a suspicious veg and didn't have enough time to research it, well, into the compost bin the whole lot eventually went. Anybody know what to do with Daikon radish?

Hearty Roots was great about anticipating this predicament and included relevant recipes in their weekly newsletter. Their suggestions usually look great, but when they call for other unusual ingredients, I'm often out of luck. I've been looking all over for fennel seed to make slaw out of these funky critters - kohlrabi, aka German (alien!!!) turnips, who knew? - and in the meantime they've taken up permanent residence in my fridge. If not for Debbie Meyer green bags, they'd probably be a lost cause.

(They don't actually grow on sticks...I'm holding them up on chopsticks)

So, fan of simple recipes that I am, I was excited to see that the recipe for golden turnip soup (with blue cheese!) they sent out with my very last pick-up was really straightforward and that I had almost all of the ingredients on hand. What's a golden turnip, you ask? I'm not even sure what a regular turnip is, exactly, but it turns out that golden turnips are just a much prettier name for rutabagas. Which is a fact I'm glad I didn't discover until after I'd cooked and eaten them because just the name rutabaga makes me think it's something I should be hiding in my napkin and feeding to the dog when ma isn't looking. Have a look:

Not so bad, eh? Their taste is earthy and a little sweet, but not nearly as sweet as sweet potatoes, or as earthy as regular turnips. I was especially excited that the recipe is for pureed soup, because you can be sloppy with the prep work and mess with the quantities pretty easily. And I haven't tried it yet, but I do think this recipe is enough of a basic template that it could be adapted to any other winter vegetable: regular turnips, sweet potato, squash, etc.

Here's the recipe they sent, along with what I actually used. (Note: I actually made this soup in December, but many varieties of turnips are still available at farmer's markets around the city.)

-6 golden turnips (I just used the whole 2 lb. lot since wasn't about to find something else to to with the rest of it!)
-2-3 cloves of roughly chopped regular garlic (I used 6!)
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-2 tablespoons butter
-1 onion, sliced (or two, or three...)
-4 cups vegetable stock (used a whole box)
-1/2 cup minced fresh chervil (I've also never cooked with this and couldn't find it conveniently. I had some fresh dill from a past pick-up and dill is listed under "See Also" on chervil's Wikipedia page so....I just used that)

Roughly chop the turnips, toss with garlic cloves and olive oil and salt the whole lot, then roast for 45 minutes (or more) at 350F. Meantime, saute onions in butter for at least 30 minutes so they will caramelize. Then, put everything in the blender with the herbs. I had to do it in two batches - make sure to let the hot air escape so you don't end up with root vegetables on the ceiling!

Top with crumbled blue cheese, serve to cheese-and-soup loving husband, done! I think it would have been pretty good with some hot crusty bread, but alas, I had none on hand and if you've noticed how easy I like things to be, well, you know I wasn't about to run out and buy any!

January 5, 2010


Michael Pollan was on the Daily Show last night to promote his new book, Food Rules. I haven't read it (though I plan to...especially since it's cheap: $5.50!), but it sounds like a condensed version of his other work, focusing specifically on how to more easily incorporate healthy eating into your daily lifestyle.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Michael Pollan
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The interview's worth a watch, especially since Pollan and Jon Stewart also touch on Pollan's views on health care reform, questioning why we'd be inclined to resent the government if they discouraged us from drinking soda to benefit our health, when for some reason we don't resent our doctors here and now when they tell us (perhaps not in these exact words) that our lifelong food choices now mean we're going to have to be on Lipitor for the rest of our lives.

And the guy is certainly making the rounds; if you have a little more time, also check out Pollan's interview on WNYC's Lenoard Lopate Show today. It's about half an hour long, but he explains more thoroughly some of the book's specific "rules."