Turnips: aside from supporting roles in chicken soups and boiled dinners, or on a plate of pickles at a Middle Eastern restaurant, I can’t say I have a lot of experience with them. But I’m trying to challenge myself this year, and cook with things that are outside of my comfort zone, so when I saw the baskets of turnips at the Farm Fresh table on Saturday, I grabbed a couple.

One of my favorite ways to test drive a new ingredient is to prepare it in soup form. Soups are incredibly forgiving, as you can start with a pretty simple base and build from there, adjusting the seasonings as the flavor develops. My base was a white onion, sliced thin and softened in butter with a healthy pinch of salt added. I added about six cups of water to that, as well as one of my turnips, peeled and cubed (the medium turnip I used yielded about 3 cups of cubes). I added a parmesan rind as well, lidded up the pot and let it cook until the turnips were soft, then I squeezed in the pulp from a head of roasted garlic. I fished out the rind, pureed the entire thing with a stick blender until smooth, added more salt to taste, and then ladled the soup into our bowls.

Dinner:  February 9, 2009

I was really pleased with how the soup turned out: the texture was velvety and rich without being heavy, and the hint of roasted garlic was lovely against the backdrop of the turnip. Where I was less satisfied was with the garnish – I didn’t want to add another element that would overpower the soup, but unfortunately, the pieces of crisped garlic naan I added did just that. I added chives and curls of Parmagiano Reggiano as well, which were a better complement, so I think next time I’ll keep the chives and parm, but float a simple crouton on top instead.

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