Turnip Soup with Turnip Greens
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.
This recipe has a number of steps and requires some patience. Like any good ragú, this sauce gets most of its flavor and personality from a long, slow cook, at least an hour if you can swing it. Do not be deterred. The sauce will pay it forward in spades with deep layers of flavor. It’s perfectly suitable for a quiet Sunday afternoon amidst a mountain of laundry waiting to be folded and a pile of e-mails waiting for responses.
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 ounce dried mushrooms, preferably porcini, soaked in 1 cup boiling water
- 2 pounds cremini or baby bella mushrooms, rinsed, 1 pound quartered, ½ pound minced in the Cuisinart
- 1 large or 2 small shallots, minced (you can use a food processor for the shallots, carrots and celery if you prefer)
- 1 large carrot, minced
- 2 stalks celery, minced
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 14-ounce can tomatoes
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 Parmesan rinds
- Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
- Bouquet garni of 2 sprigs rosemary, 4 sprigs thyme and 2 bay leaves
Using a food processor or Cuisinart, pulse the shallots, carrot, and celery to fine pieces. Set aside. Add ½ pound of rinsed mushrooms and soaked porcinis and pulse to fine pieces. Set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium-size rondeau over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add half the quartered mushrooms. Let the mushrooms sear for several minutes before jostling them gently and adding a big pinch of salt and a couple grinds of black pepper. Stir gently to evenly sear, adjusting the heat as needed so the bottom of the pan doesn’t scorch. Once the mushrooms are almost evenly seared, add a tablespoon of butter and stir to evenly coat. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside. Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the same pot and repeat with the rest of the quartered mushrooms.
Once all the quartered mushrooms are seared, add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and sear the minced mushrooms. Sear until evenly browned, then scoop out of the pan and set aside with the seared quartered mushrooms.
Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the over medium-low heat along with the vegetables. Sweat the vegetables until softened, about 10 minutes, scraping up the mushroom fond with a wooden spoon. After 3 or 4 minutes, season the vegetables with salt and pepper.
Turn the heat to medium and add the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze any lingering bits of fond. Add the tomato paste and cook 1-2 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes and mix well. Add mushroom tea and enough water so that the vegetables are nearly entirely submerged in liquid.
Simmer over medium heat until the liquid is reduced by half, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the milk, bouquet garni, and Parmesan rinds. Reduce again by half until the sauce is nicely thickened.
Once the ragu is the right consistency, finish by stirring in one tablespoon of butter.
This ragu freezes beautifully. If you are freezing it, thaw it in the fridge overnight before you need to use it, then reheat slowly and mount in another pad of butter before serving.