I like to eat this soup chilled on a hot day. If you want to serve it warm, take care not to boil the green soup as it will discolor if it’s cooked longer than a moment or two.
You can find the original recipe for Vellutata di Rape Bianche e Rapini in Zuppe by Mona Talbott. Mona suggests sautéing the leaves separately and swirling them into the white base. I’m a glutton for olive oil and will find any excuse to use it abundantly in recipes. Here I blanch the greens and blend them with olive oil, creating two soups that I serve alongside each other in one bowl. A visual stunner, and a fun soup to eat since you get to swirl them together and paint an edible canvass with a soup spoon.
- 2 bunches turnips, with an abundance of green tops
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed
- 3 branches thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- Juice from ½ lemon
To prepare the turnips: Separate the turnips from their leaves. Wash the turnips well. No need to peel them unless they are older and the skins are tough. Thinly slice the turnips. Strip the turnip greens from their stems and wash in multiple changes of water until they’re free of dirt. You don’t need to dry the greens since you’ll be blanching them.
In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, add 3T olive oil and the onions. Sweat gently with a large pinch of salt until softened. Add the garlic cloves and thyme sprigs. Cook for another minute, then add the turnips, a big pinch of salt, bay leaves, and enough water to cover. Cook over medium heat until the turnips are easily pierced with the tip of a paring knife, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, fill a medium-sized saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Salt the water generously and blanch the turnip greens until softened, 1-2 minutes. Spread out on a sheet tray and set aside to cool completely.
Remove the thyme springs and bay leaves from the soup. Add the lemon juice and puree the soup in a blender to smooth. Taste for salt and acid, adding more salt and lemon juice as needed. Chill well.
Rinse and dry the blender. Roughly chop the cooled blanched greens. Add a ¼ cup olive oil to the base, then add the greens and any liquid collected on the sheet tray. Blend to a bright green puree. Taste for salt and add more as needed. Chill well.
To serve the soup, simultaneously pour the white base and the green base into the serving vessel from opposite ends to create two distinct half-moon shapes. Drizzle with olive oil and a crack of black pepper.
In the name of professional development, I purchased 6 bundles of lovage last week without a plan. In Vegetable Literacy, Deborah Madison recommends adding lovage to potatoes and dried beans as well as egg salad, tomato and lentil soups, and green salads. She even suggests using the more mature, hollow stems as a straw for a Bloody Mary.
Recently, I served this sauce over tuna confit and gigante beans. The anchovies are a subtle but welcome addition. I implore you to include them – anchovy paste is a suitable substitute in a pinch unless you’re keeping it vegetarian or vegan, in which case it’s perfectly acceptable to omit.
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 3T red wine vinegar
- 1 bunch lovage, finely chopped
- 1T capers, finely chopped
- 3 anchovy filets, finely chopped
- 1 ½ cups extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly cracked black pepper
Place the shallots, red wine vinegar, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. The vinegar should cover the minced shallots. If necessary, add a bit more vinegar. Leave to macerate for 5 minutes, then strain and reserve the vinegar.
When chopping the lovage, take care to dry the leaves well. Excess moisture will encourage bruising and catalyst unsightly browning. A sharp knife is imperative here.
Place the lovage, capers, anchovy, and macerated shallots in a small bowl. Fold in the olive oil. You may not need it all. Salsa verde should be loose enough to drip off a spoon, but not so loose that it resembles soup. Find a happy medium. You may not need all the oil. Season with salt, black pepper, and a couple of drops of the vinegar from the macerated shallots.
If preparing the sauce ahead of time, withhold the shallots and vinegar as the vinegar will hasten the discoloration of the bright herbs. Fold the shallots and vinegar in right before you’re ready to serve.
This is a delicious condiment for roasted chicken or steak but would also be at home over a bed of steamed baby potatoes or cooked white beans.