It’s not what you think. Dull? No. Bitter? No. Stodgy? No way! How did the poor turnip get such a bad reputation, anyway?
The spring turnips you may be seeing at your farmers market these days are delicate little morsels, and you should grab a bunch, along with their green tops, to make this sweet soup. I always want more greens than they have attached, though, so if you’re like me you should also grab a bunch of mustard greens and pluck the leaves off your radishes as well to enhance your pile of greens.
This recipe is adapted from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, and she serves it with Gruyere croutons, which are lovely–but it’s also lovely without. If you want to make them, mash 1/2 c. grated cheese with a tsp. dijon mustard, 1 Tb. butter, and a few grinds of pepper. Spread onto baguette slices and toast until bubbly. You also couldn’t go wrong with a homemade bread here, maybe a soda bread (whole wheat? rye?) or an oat bread.
Turnip Soup with Spicy Greens: Peel, quarter, and thinly slice a bunch of turnips (4-6 medium turnips), 3 small boiling potatoes, and an onion or a couple of leeks. (Save those trimmings for your homemade vegetable broth.) Wash and reserve the turnip leaves. Melt 2 Tb. butter in a soup pot over medium heat and add turnips, potatoes, onion/leeks, a minced clove of garlic, 1/4 c. chopped parsley, and 4 sprigs of thyme (or 1/4 tsp. dried thyme). Cook about 5 mins, then add 6 c. water and 1 1/2 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes. Puree the soup, then stir in 1/2 c. cream or milk. While the soup is cooking, wash any additional greens you plan to serve in the soup with your turnip greens (I like mustard and radish greens if I have them) and cut the greens into wide ribbons. As soon as the soup is ready (or just before), toss your still-damp greens into a saute pan with a knob of butter and a few pinches of salt. When they are wilted but still bright green, taste them to be sure they are tender and adjust the seasoning with more salt. Add another bit of butter at the end to make the greens extra delicious. Serve the soup in wide bowls with a pile of sauteed greens in the middle.