Ain't no cookie decorator - and turnip soup

A big bowl of turnip soup can cure a a myriad of woes — or at least help soothe a bruised ego.

I knew cake and cookie decorating wasn't my thing when I told C, founder of SpiceLines, that I wanted to participate in her first ever sugar cookie decorating contest.  I wasn't prepared, however, for just how humbling the experience would be. I tried to channel Martha and kept friends' helpful hints and creative suggestions in the back of my mind when I approached this project. (Kitty thought I should dress the camels in party clothes, Rhett suggested using butter icing for more control, Lisa voted for Indian-inspired garb, and Jane pointed out that Martha's staff would actually do the work). I made cookie dough and royal icing, broke out vials of food coloring, and made a big 'ole mess. Such a mess that I couldn't share it with anyone.

So SpiceLines isn't getting photos of my camel cookies — my messily marbled, polka-dotted, and sort-of-geared-up-in-a-circus-outfit camel cookies. I broke the news to C this Friday afternoon, and she was incredibly gracious, confiding that she can't decorate cakes and cookies either. That made me feel better, but I needed a culinary win to really turn my day around. The win came in the form of turnip soup.

This soup is a simple puree — it's a meal when paired with salad and bread. You can use another root vegetable in place of the turnips. Use vegetable stock in place of water for a more flavorful soup.

I think this soup tastes better the day after it's made.

Cream of Turnip Soup
Serves  6

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 medium leeks, white parts only, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 large turnips, about 2 pounds, peeled and chopped
2 small yukon gold potatoes, about 1 pound, peeled and chopped
3 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
6-7 cups water or vegetable stock
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
about 1/3 cup half-and-half or heavy cream
minced chives for garnish

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the leeks and garlic and cook over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add the turnips, potatoes, thyme leaves and water, a pinch of kosher salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Puree (I used an immersion blender), adjust seasoning, and add half-and-half or cream if desired. Garnish with minced chives.

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