Friday, April 15, 2011

Turnip and Apple Soup

Photo by Sergio Salvador
www.salvadorphoto.com

Turnips are fabulously easy to grow, cold-hardy, and keep forever during the winter, which is why they're available pretty much year round. Too bad so many people dislike them. They're one of the few veggies I've had trouble learning to like.

But spring turnips fresh from the garden taste so much better than the big purple-topped kind from the grocery store, it's whole different story! The tiny ones are almost like radishes, with a creamier texture (though still crunchy) and a milder flavor.

This soup is a lovely, fresh-tasting way to use the last of the winter apples and turnips, or the first of the spring turnips. It's good hot or cold, as a light appetizer or accompaniment to a grilled cheese sandwich made with sharp cheddar. If you don't have stock, you can saute the apples and turnips until they caramelize a bit, then just use water.

2 T. butter
3 leeks
1 tsp dried thyme (or even better, lemon thyme)
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1 ½ pounds turnips, chopped
3 apples, chopped
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
½ cup cream (optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Chopped fresh chives, to garnish

Slice the leeks thinly, swirl them in a bowl of cold water, then let the dirt sink to the bottom and the leeks float to the top. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat, and cook the leeks with nutmeg and thyme until just soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Peel the turnips if they are large. Add turnips, apples and broth – don't be tempted to add more liquid, because the apples will release plenty. Cover and simmer until tender but not mushy, about 30-40 minutes. Purée with an immersion blender, or in batches in a food processor. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in cream if desired. Garnish with chives (or perhaps a few bits of bacon, sharp cheddar, a pinch of nutmeg, or croutons). Serves 6 to 8 as a side or appetizer.
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