The saying “You can’t squeeze blood from a turnip” is thought to have Biblical origins, though I suggest you forget about that and embrace this root vegetable and its greens as a delicious and versatile source of Vitamins C, A, and K, as well as calcium and foliate. Turnips are considered a winter-time produce, though you may find them at local farmers’ markets through March.
I met up with Stanley and Linda Hughes at their Pine Knot Farm stand at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market and could not resist purchasing their purple top turnips. These freshly dug turnips are so sweet that the white, glistening, raw slices are simply delicious sprinkled with a bit of sea salt and freshly ground pepper!
I imagine that Stanley was in the fields early that morning pulling on the sturdy turnip greens to release the tubers from the organically nourished soil. And, to be sure, Linda was supervising and developing tasty offerings for their market customers.
Stanley’s niece with turnips
Invited to a recent girls’ night out celebration, I decided to present the guests with shot glasses of Creamy Turnip Soup, garnished with a dab of yogurt and turnip greens. I am pleased to report overwhelmingly positive responses.
Shot glasses of Turnip Soup
Creamy Turnip Soup with Turnip Green Garnish
1 head garlic, separated into cloves, and wrapped in aluminum foil
5 turnips, medium size, peeled, cut into quarters, reserve turnip greens
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into quarters
4 cups vegetable, chicken stock or water
½ T Sea salt and 1 ½ t. freshly ground pepper
½ t. freshly ground nutmeg
½ cup of Greek yogurt
Place ¼ cup olive oil in bottom of heavy roasting pan. Add turnips, onions and toss to coat and season with salt and pepper. Add packet of garlic. Bake in 425 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes, tossing once or twice during cooking process, or until turnips and onions are fork tender. Unwrap garlic and when cool, squeeze out the flesh and discard papery skins.
Place roasted vegetables in a large stockpot. Add liquid and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Puree until smooth with and immersion blender of food processor. Return soup to pot, stir in nutmeg, and ¼ cup of the yogurt. Reheat. Taste and adjust seasonings. Wash several tender turnip leaves and tear them into ½ inch strips. Serve soup in preferred vessel, garnish with a dollop of yogurt and several strips of greens.
Turnips were an important food for the Romans, especially in the time of the Republic, before their Empire spread and brought in rich agricultural lands. At the beginning of the 3rd century BC the war hero and consul, Curius Dentatus, was approached by envoys from the hostile Samnites while he was roasting turnips over a fire. They offered him a large amount of gold to defect to their side; but he preferred to attend to his turnips.