In the winter months in particular, it is easy to get wrapped up in such frivolities as Salted Pecan Candy Cap Sables, or Double Chocolate Banana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting, and to forget that sometimes the best foods are the most simple and straightforward.
The first spring onions of the year and tiny, white turnips that came in our box last week inspired me to make this soup, Deborah Madison’s Rough and Ready Turnip Potage. ‘Peasant food fit for royalty,’ are the words that popped into my head upon the first mouthful of this delicately creamy soup. Spring onions and leeks stew slowly with turnips and potatoes, while a generous dose of butter, salt and thyme create a simple, flavorful broth. A splash of (heavy) cream brings it all together, and the result tastes both homey and decadent, simple and complex, rich, but not too.
The active time amounts to a few minutes of peeling and chopping. Then you forget about it for a while, letting it do its thing on the stove while you enjoy a glass of wine and feel smug and elegant at your culinary prowess and ease. When the soup is ready, you are rewarded with a pot of sweet, earthy lusciousness ready to comfort you on a chill winter afternoon or evening.
Serve with a hunk of crusty bread and butter for a humble and hearty repast, or puree it smooth and top with tiny croutons for an elegant starter.
Adapted (slightly) from Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors
Makes 4-6 servings
After you’ve made this, you may wish you’d had the foresight to double the recipe. I couldn’t get enough of this soup.
The easiest way to clean spring onions or leeks, which can get sandy mud stuck in their many layers, is to slice them in half lengthwise, then cut them crosswise into 1/4″ semicircles. Place in a bowl and fill with warm water, swish them around a bit, and let them soak for a few minutes. Lift them out of the water. The sandy bits will have sunk to the bottom, and you will have yourself some squeaky clean alliums.
2 tablespoons butter
5 or 6 medium spring onions or leeks, or a combination, sliced and washed thoroughly (see headnote)
4 medium yellow potatoes (about the size of a small fist), peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
1 pound turnips, peeled if large, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces
a few sprigs of thyme, plus extra for garnish
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
5 cups water
a few tablespoons heavy cream
Melt the butter in a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the vegetables, and toss to coat in the butter, cooking and stirring for a minute or two. Add the thyme, salt and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook, partially covered, until the vegetables are very tender, 30 or 40 minutes. Serve with a splash of cream and a few fresh thyme leaves.