I spent my Easter holiday in Brussels and on one day I popped in the local market and I’d discovered an interesting vegetable. I asked the seller what is it and she told me that it is called navet! But what is navette or navet?- I asked back. She gave the next explanation: it is a sort of turnip or rutabaga. And here people make soup from it using the leaves as well. It is a precious vegetable because the roots contain vitamin A, K, C, Kalium and the leaves the important lutein. Okay, learning all those facts I bought a bunch of “turnip” (1,60 euros pro bunch) and decided to make a soup from it. The market lady suggested me to add some potatoes to veggie, and not to forget to use the leaves!-shouted she to me from far distance. Seeing this beautiful, rosy vegetables my daughters became very curious and they offered their help at cooking.
The outcome was a rich turnip soup! From that humble vegetable I achieved to make a creamy soup with just 1 tablespoon of butter. I served it as a starter (it can be topped with a mini salad who loves the bit of texture from the greens and pop of flavor from the vinaigrette).
Ingredients: 4 medium turnips/navets (about 1½ pounds) plus 1½ cups thinly sliced turnip greens or spinach, divided, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, 1 tablespoon butter, 1 medium onion, sliced, ½ teaspoon dried rosemary, ½ teaspoon salt plus a pinch, divided, ¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper plus a pinch, divided, 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, ¼ cup shredded carrot, 2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallion greens, 2 teaspoons white-wine vinegar
Peel and slice turnips. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the turnips, rosemary, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon white pepper; stir to combine. Cover and cook, stirring once or twice, for 10 minutes.
Add broth, increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook until the turnips are tender, 10 to 12 minutes more.
Meanwhile, toss the turnip greens (or spinach) in a medium bowl with carrot, scallion greens, vinegar, the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and pinch of salt and pepper.
Puree the soup in the pan using an immersion blender or transfer to a regular blender and blend until smooth. (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids.) Serve each portion of soup topped with a generous ¼ cup of the salad.
In England, the turnip is popular to be boiled together with carrots and served either mashed or pureed with butter and ground pepper. The flavored cooking water is often retained for soup, or as an addition to gravy. Swede (Rutabaga or turnip) is an essential vegetable component of the traditional Welsh lamb broth called cawl and Irish Stew as eaten in England. Swede is also a component of the popular condiment Branston Pickles. The swede is also one of the four traditional ingredients of the pastry originating in Cornwall.
In Canada they are considered winter vegetables, as along with similar vegetables they are able to be kept in a cold area or cellar for several months. However in Germany it is called May roots (Mairüben). They are primarily used as a side dish. They are also used as filler in foods such as mincemeat and Christmas cake.
In the US, turnip is mostly eaten as part of stews or casseroles, served mashed with carrots, or baked in a pasty. They are frequently found in the New England boiled dinner.
Despite its popularity elsewhere, the turnip in German Mairüben, is considered a food of last resort in both Germany and France due to its association with food shortages in World War I and World War II. Boiled stew with turnip and water as the only ingredients (Steckrübeneintopf) was a typical food in Germany during the famines and food shortages of World War I. and between 1945 and 1949. As a result, many older Germans had unhappy memories of this food.