When I picked up my order from Fresh Harvest Coop, I was drawn to these small white globes lying in a basket on the sales table.
“They’re harukei salad turnips,” grower Tally said.
“Turnips?” For me, turnips fall into the category of something beneficial, but avoidable, like castor oil. “These look beautiful. But, I’ve never been a fan.”
Tally smiled. “That’s been almost everyone’s reaction. But these are so sweet; you can eat them raw. I think you’ll really like them.”
Since I believe that there are few people more trustworthy than our local farmers, I heeded Tally’s words and made the purchase.
When I arrived home, I washed one off and took a bite. I was surprised by its earthy sweetness, a firm but tender texture—I immediately sliced one up and tossed it into a salad. A few nights later, another found its way into a tomato-based vegetable soup. In both instances, the harukei was an amicable background player.
But I wanted to cook something that could bring it to the fore, and show off that sweetness and texture. On a chilly day that begged for more soup, I decided that a vegetable bisque might be the perfect vehicle for these babies.
Potatoes create the creamy base for the bisque without adding any cream. As the potatoes cook down and get mashed up, they provide body. Because I live with a vegetarian, I use vegetable stock to extend the base. If I don’t have some already made, I use the types you find in those pourable cartons. Adding the turnips at the end keeps them chunky and the flavor fresh.
“This is really good,” my vegetarian partner said, ladling another bowl.
“It’s the turnips,” I said.
Sweet Turnip Bisque
2 Tablespoons olive oil–divided
1 Tablespoon butter
3 medium potatoes, (about 1 ½ cups) peeled and diced (I used russets, but try others!)
2 carrots, diced small
2 celery ribs, chopped finely
1 medium white onion, diced
2 cups diced turnips (don’t peel)
2 Tablespoons fresh dillweed
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup lowfat milk
salt & white pepper, to taste
a few grindings of black pepper, a few sprigs of dillweed to garnish
In a 2qt. saucepan on medium heat, melt the butter with 1 Tablespoon oil.
Add potatoes, carrots, celery, and onions and sauté, stirring frequently.
Add one cup of the stock, stir, and simmer until the potatoes become tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and mash the potato-vegetable mix with a hand potato masher until the mixture resembles a thickened puree-like base.
In a separate skillet with the remaining Tablespoon of olive oil, sauté the turnips for 5 minutes. Scrape the cooked turnips into the saucepan with the potato-vegetable mix. Add remaining stock and milk. Stir well and return to heat. Season with salt and white pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes.
Garnish with black pepper and dillweed.
Serves 2 hearty main meal appetites, or 4 regular ones