We tried out this recipe for Food52, to see how it tastes and works. The idea is good: it is sort of a turnip Vichyssoise. But we have some recommendations to improve the taste and ease of preparation. We bought our turnips, radishes, chicken stock and leeks at Stop and Shop.
According to the recipe, you quarter about 3 cups of small turnips and cut up three leeks. Using the recipe’s method, apparently one recommended by Amanda Hesser, we cut the leeks into short lengths and rinsed them in a bowl to get out the silt. The silt falls through to the bottom of the bowl. Then we dried the leeks on paper towels and cut each length in half so they would sauté more uniformly.
The idea is to sauté the leeks and then add the turnip pieces and cook until soft. We were concerned that the bitter turnip taste would overpower the soup, so we divided our ingredients in half. One half we prepared according to the recipe, and the other half we prepared using roasted turnips.
For the standard recipe, we sautéed all the leeks in advance, and removed half to use in the revised recipe we describe below. We then added the turnips, dried on paper towels, to the pot with the leeks and slowly cooked them. There is a problem with this approach: it is very difficult to keep from burning the leeks while you cook the turnips, and at the least quite a few pieces of leek got quite brown. It would have been better to remove all the leeks while the turnips cooked, and then add them back in when the turnips were cooked.
When the turnips were softened, we added one 17 oz box of chicken stock and slowly boiled the turnips until they were quite soft. The stock turned quite brown because of the browned leeks, although there was no burned taste in the final soup: just a dark color.
When the turnips were quite soft we ladled out the turnips and leeks into the bowl of a food processor, and strained the remaining stock to remove and smaller pieces of leek or turnip and added those pieces to the food processor as well, reserving the stock.
We pureed the turnip –leek mixture and then added about a half cup of the reserved stock and pureed that as well. We then scraped that mixture into a mixing bowl and added more stock, stirring until it was the texture of a thick soup. Then we added about ¼ cup of heavy cream to the soup, which lightens the color as well as giving it some smoothness and richness.
The roast turnips version is actually simpler. We put the peeled, quartered turnips on a foil-lined baking sheet, coated them with a little olive oil and roasted them for 15 minutes at 400 F, turned them and roasted another 10-15 minutes, until they were soft. Meanwhile we would have been sautéing the leeks, but we’d done that for the first batch.
The roasted turnips get a little brown on the sides, but this adds less brown to the soup than did the over-browned leeks in the first recipe.
We added the turnips and leeks to a pot, added 17 oz of chicken stock and boiled the turnips until very soft: about 5-10 minutes. We added some water as the stock boiled down. Then we pureed the turnips as before in a food processer, added some of the stock, scraped the mixture into a bowl, added stock to the desired consistency and added about ¼ cup of cream.
Comparing the recipes
Side by side, the roast turnip version was lighter in color because of the browned leeks in the first version. And it tasted distinctly sweeter. It was definitely the better recipe according to our small 2-person tasting panel.
We cooked 3 strips of bacon to very crisp, drained them on paper towels and chopped them up. Then we chopped up some radish greens and wilted them briefly (about 5-10 seconds) in the bacon grease.
Radish greens apparently vary in flavor by variety, but the greens from ordinary red globe radishes are pretty tasteless. Uncooked, they tasted rather like wood sorrel (lemon clover) and cooked they had little or no flavor. Unless you have really tasty ones handy, I’d recommend using chives or parsley instead.
The final recipe
- 3 cups peeled and quartered turnips
- 3 leeks
- 2 Tb olive oil
- 4 cups chicken broth (2 17 oz cartons)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Salt and pepper
- 6 strips bacon
- Minced chives
- Preheat the oven to 400 F
- Dry the turnips and place them on a foil-lined cookie sheet and coat with a little olive oil.
- Roast the turnips for 15 minutes, turn them and roast until soft, another 10-15 minutes
- Meanwhile, cut the leeks into ¾” lengths and rinse them in a bowl of water to remove the silt.
- Dry the leeks, cut each round in half, and sauté in the olive oil until soft, in a pan large enough for all the turnips.
- When the turnips are done, add them to the pan and add the chicken stock.
- Cook the turnips until very soft.
- Ladle the turnips and leeks into a food processor. Strain the remaining leek and turnip pieces out of the stock, reserving the stock.
- Puree the turnip leek mixture until smooth, and add about a cup of stock and process until uniform.
- Scrape the mixture into a bowl, and whisk in more stock until you get the consistency you want for soup.
- Stir in ¼ to ½ cup heavy cream.
- Cook the bacon until crisp. Drain the bacon on paper towels and chop it up.
- Warm the soup up again if you are serving it hot, and ladle into serving bowls.
- Sprinkle the bacon onto each serving bowl, and add chopped chives.