Winter is an ideal time to think about soup and nothing makes better soup than the fresh, local ingredients you can find at the Saratoga Winter Farmers’ Market (9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Division Street School). This year the Market boasts seven vendors selling local vegetables, so your choices for any soup are only limited by your imagination.
The Market’s newest veggie vendor is Quincy Farm, owned and worked by the energetic team of Luke Deikis and Cara Fraver. Luke commented last week that he thought January to be “a great time to promote the humble and oft-under-appreciated root veggie: The Turnip.” Luke also mentioned that Cara makes a terrific turnip soup and that the farm has an ample supply this winter.
So what is it about the turnip that we should appreciate? The turnip is a root vegetable in the brassica family, which includes radishes, cabbage, and mustard. When freshly harvested one can enjoy the greens as well as the root, but at this time of year it is all about the root. Turnips are a great alternative to potatoes, whether mashed, roasted or added to soups and stews. The root is a source of vitamin C, but the smooth texture and sweetness are what make it a special addition to the dinner plate or soup bowl.
Here’s a fun-fact about the turnip that Luke loves to tell. Originally, Jack-o-lanterns were carved from large turnips. An Irish legend tells about Stingy Jack, who was turned away from both Heaven and Hell, and spent eternity wandering the world, lighting his way with a chunk of coal in a carved-out turnip.
Cara’s soup recipe is based on one from Eating Well Magazine that she updated to her liking. She suggests topping the soup with olive oil and sour cream, and even chopped fried leeks. This easy recipe is warming and tasty, and with the added garnishes has a really nice presentation.
A note on Quincy Farm
Only two families have owned Quincy Farm since the eighteenth century. The Wright family arrived in arrived in 1774 and worked the land until Gordon and Marguerite Wright retired in 1972, and after that rented the land to other farmers. When they died, the family decided to sell the farm. Coincidentally Cara and Luke were farm hunting, and approached the Agricultural Stewardship Association (a land trust in Greenwich) and the Open Space Institute to begin the process of making this land a forever farm, through agricultural conservation easement. Luke and Cara bought their “glass slipper” as they call it, in April of 2011 and immediately planted their first vegetable crops. They soon will begin their third year of growing and supplying farmers’ markets. http://www.quincyfarm.net/history-of-the-land.html
Creamy Turnip Soup
(Those marked * are available at the Saratoga Winter Farmers’ Market.)
- 4 medium sized turnips (about 1½ pounds) *
- 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 1 medium onion *
- ½ tsp. dried rosemary
- Salt and pepper
- 4 cups chicken or veggie broth (purchased or homemade from farmers’ market ingredients)
- Sour cream
- Chopped leeks, fried (optional garnish) *
1. Peel and slice the turnips.
2. Heat 1 tbsp. oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
3. Add onion and cook, stirring, until brown, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the turnips, rosemary, ½ tsp. salt or to taste, and a generous grinding of black pepper. Stir to combine.
5. Cover and cook, stirring once or twice, for ten minutes.
6. Add broth, increase heat to high and bring to a boil.
7. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook until the turnips are tender, about 10 minutes more.
8. Puree the hot soup in the pan with an immersion blender (or after carefully transferring to a standard blender or food processor).
9. Ladle into bowls, then add a generous dollop of sour cream, an arty swirl of olive oil, the optional fried leeks, and lots of freshly-ground black pepper.