Sunday, June 20, 2010

Broccoli Rabe, Turnip and Garlic Spears soup

There's something so exciting and enticing abou finding new ingredients and experimenting with them. On a recent trip to Uwajimaya (an Asian grocery superstore), I found myself in fresh produce heaven. I've always known that they had a wide variety of produce, but I rarely ever go because it's completely out of the way. That ends now as I will definitely be going back as often as possible for new ingredients to try.

I wandered around looking at the different greens and roots and veggies, completely wide-eyed and in awe of the possibilities... I didn’t know where to start! After a minute of daydreaming, I was snapped back to reality by a helpful produce guy wanting to know if I needed help. Not wanting him to know exactly how nerdy and excited I was, I managed to shake
my head and squeak out "I'm fine, thanks" as normally as I could.

What I walked away with ultimately wasn't that exciting per say, but all the ingredients are new to me. I got turnips, garlic spears, broccoli rabe and morels. Garlic spears are the stems and flowers from elephant garlic. Raw they are sharp, peppery and have a strong garlic flavor that will knock your socks off. Cooked, they're more mild but equally delicious. Broccoli rabe (also known as rappini) is a leafy green. It's actually a relative of the turnip, not broccoli, and has a taste reminiscent to broccoli, but more bitter.

This soup tastes (and looks) like spring. It's similar to cream of broccoli, without the cream and the flavors are as green as the soup itself. It has a hint of garlic and a slight bitterness to it, and it's freshness that feels appropriate for the spring-like weather that we've been experiencing here in Seattle. It's tasty hot, but versatile enough that it could also be served cold for a nice treat on a hot summer day. Yum!

The recipe
Servings: 4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

2 medium turnips
1 bunch broccoli rabe
4-5 garlic spears
1 quart chicken broth or stock
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Grated Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste

1. Peel and chop the turnips into chunks approx an inch in diameter. Place turnips, red pepper flakes and nutmeg in a large soup pot with a quart of broth and bring to a boil.

2. Reduce heat and allow to simmer until turnips begin to get tender, translucent white instead of a solid white as they soften.

3. Meanwhile, rinse and chop broccoli rabe and garlic spears. Once the turnips are soft, add the broccoli rabe and garlic spears, including the heads. Once the rabe has wilted, add water or broth as necessary to ensure all of the veggies are covered. Simmer for 5-7 minutes, or until the broccoli rabe and garlic spears are soft.

4. Transfer soup to a blender and purée. Return to soup pot and add lemon, parmesan, salt and pepper to taste.

Serving suggestion: Let the soup sit overnight to let the flavors develop. On a hot summer day serve cold as a gazpacho.

1 comment:

  1. That sounds yummy and so healthy.
    I have been on a kick of making swiss chard with garlic, ginger and sometimes spinach for the past 2 nights, sauteing it in a little garlic oil in the wok. The chard is fresh from the Pacifica farmer's market, making it even fresher & better. The bunch of chard I got had white, yellow & red ends for color. MOM