Thanksgiving Postmortem: Turnips the Big Winner

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This year, all Thanksgiving cooking duties were handled by me and my remarkably (and thankfully) agreeable boyfriend. We took the opportunity to try out some new recipes and methods: dry-brining the turkey, Bittman's braised-and-glazed brussels sprouts instead of the usual cream-braised ones, Cook's Illustrated smashed potatoes (subscription needed to view, or find it in the 2007 Fall Entertaining issue), persimmon pie. Dry-brining gets a big thumbs up--we're a family dedicated to dark meat, but even the white meat was so moist and flavorful everyone was actually willing to eat their share of it. But the real star of our meal, the thing we're still talking and thinking about? Turnips. Turnip soup, to be precise.

I found this recipe via Jane Black in The Washington Post. The description charmed me: "The soup is a pristine white. It looks and tastes as if it contains plenty of cream. In fact, it's mostly turnips, with a little potato to add richness, butter, chicken broth and a touch of nutmeg." Of course, it didn't hurt that the recipe came from the great Edna Lewis, whose gorgeously written Taste of Country Cooking, is one of my favorite books (that it also happens to be a cookbook is an added bonus). The soup is a stunner: truly silken, ultra creamy and luxurious, with a pleasant edge and bitterness. As part of a Thanksgiving spread, its flavor and lightness are both welcome and arresting. On any other day, it's just awesome. I know because I just had a bowl for breakfast.

Edna Lewis' Silken Turnip Soup

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 medium onions, cut into thin slices

4 medium turnips, peeled and cut into thin slices (1.5 pounds total)

1 small russet potato, peeled and cut into thin slices

2 teaspoons kosher salt

5 cups chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Once it is foaming, add the onions and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, until they have softened slightly. Add the turnips, potato and salt; mix well. Cover and reduce the heat to low; cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender. Add the broth and stir to combine; cook for 10 minutes, until heated through.

Remove from the heat; use an immersion blender to puree into a smooth soup. (You can puree it in batches in the blender, making sure to remove the center cap on the lid, as hot liquids expand.) Return the soup to the pot and place over medium-low heat. Add the nutmeg and stir to incorporate. Cook for 10 minutes.

 
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