Cruciferous caraway cumin soup

May 30, 2006 at 7:54 pm (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Cruciferous rich, My brain, Other, Peter Berley, Quick weeknight recipe, Root vegetables, soup, Starches, Vegetable dishes)

This is the first recipe I ever made with rutabagas, and I really love it. The recipe is adapted from one in The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, by Peter Berley. His recipe calls for making a spice oil with the cumin and coriander and drizzling it on top. I’m sure that would be nice but I was too lazy so just added the spices to the soup. The slow sauteeing of the onions and toasted flour bring out the natural sweetness in the rutabaga, and the combination with caraway is a winner. I love caraway but never know what to put it on–problem solved!

  • 1 large onion, diced (about 1.5 or 2 cups?)
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil (or use 1 olive oil, and 1 of butter, or just 1 of olive oil)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 large rutabaga, peeled and diced (about 1 pound)
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground caraway seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • 1 Tbs. flour
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground cumin
  • 4 cups water (use 3 cups for a thicker puree, if you have a tall narrow pot)

1. In a heavy 3- to 4-quart saucepan over medium heat, saute the onion and rutabaga in the butter, olive oil and salt. Reduce the heat, cover, and cook gently for 20 minutes. The onions should brown and start to caramelize.
2. Stir in the caraway, garlic, cayenne, coriander, cumin, and flour. Raise the heat and saute for 5 more minutes.
3. Add enough water to cover the vegetables by 1 inch, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and cover, and simmer for 30-40 minutes until the rutabaga crushes easily against the side of the pan with the back of a spoon.
4. Use a stick blender to puree.

Yields about 5 cups–3 large or 5 small servings

My Notes

The first time I made this I followed Berley’s recipe exactly, except for the spice oil part (his recipe is no longer posted here–you’ll have to look it up in his cookbook.) I liked it a lot, but thought the recipe could use some tweaking.

I made this a second time, using only 1 Tbs. olive oil. I also had about 2-3 cups of zucchini insides leftover from my stuffed zucchini the other night, that I added and let cook down completely. The soup tasted pretty much the same from what I could tell, but was healthier. I want to keep working on this recipe to get a recipe with the same great flavor, but more nutritious and more filling. Eventually I’m positive it’s going to be a winner.

Okay, in a third attempt I used two leftover pattypan squashes. I was a bit short on rutabaga so I threw in the end of my celery root. I also still just used 1 Tbs. oil, but added more of the spices. The squashes were not noticeable, but the vegetal herbaceousness of the celery root interfered a bit with the sweet cabbage-y taste of the rutabaga. I wouldn’t add celery root again. The soup was still tasty though.

On my fourth try I used one rutabaga that was just over a pound, 1 Tbs. flour, 2 Tbs. olive oil, and 4 cups of water. It was just a bit spicy and really satisfying. It made 5 cups. I had it in a bowl that I had just had yogurt with cinnamon in, and I really liked the combo. Next time I might try adding cinnamon and a swirl of yogurt. Derek didn’t like it, although both his parents did. The nutritional stats still weren’t great–it’s pretty low calorie but 46% fat and only 6% protein.

Rating: B+

Stats Per Cup
Calories 106
Total Fat 5.8g
Saturated Fat 0.7g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 256mg
Carbohydrate 13.3g
Dietary Fiber 2.4g
Sugars 6.9g
Protein 1.8g
Vitamin A 1% Vitamin C 32%
Calcium 6% Iron 4%

Cauliflower Version

Jan 2007: Today I tried a Cauliflower soup with caraway from Sara Moulton’s cookbook “Cooks at Home”. Well, I kind of tried it. I didn’t have chicken stock (or even veg. stock), or rye bread, or chives. I didn’t feel like using 2 Tbs. olive oil and 4 Tbs. butter for 4 servings, and I forgot to add the fresh lemon and plum tomatoes that are supposed to go in at the end as a garnish. What I did do:

  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium head cauliflower (I used about 1 2/3 pounds)
  • 1 medium Yukon Gold potato, peeled (I left mine unpeeled)
  • 2 tsp. caraway seeds
  • 3 cups water (I would have used veg. broth if I had any)
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. coriander
  • lots of pepper
  • 3/4? tsp. salt (def. more than 1/2 tsp.)
  • a big shake of aleppo pepper
  • 2 Tbs. half and half

I broke off about 1.5 cups of florets, then sliced the remaining cauliflower.

I sauteed the onion slowly with the olive oil, caraway seeds, and 1/2 tsp. salt in a covered pan. When the onion softened and started to brown I added the sliced cauliflower and potato (sliced thinly). I sauteed a minute then added the water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer until the cauliflower is tender, about 20 minutes. I then used my stick blender to puree the cauliflower. At this point I tasted it and realized it tasted a lot like the rutabaga soup above. The texture was different–more grainy, and it wasn’t very rich tasting since I’d used so little oil, but the basic caraway / cruciferous taste was the dominant one. I had half and half around for some Cook’s Illustrated recipes so added 2 Tbs to see how that worked. I think I liked it better without the half and half, which sort of mellowed the Cauliflower flavor too much. It did make it more filling though, but next time I think I’ll just use more olive oil to start, or make a spice oil to drizzle over the top.

Sara Moulton said to pre-steam the handful of cauliflower florets she had you hold aside, but I was too lazy so I just threw them in the hot pureed soup and hoped they’d cook. They were still a bit crunchy, but in a good way. Probably not the most elegant version, but easy, and has the benefit of getting both the enzymes that are only present in raw crucifers and the ones that are only present in cooked ones!

In any case, it still tasted a lot like the rutabaga soup, but kind of bland, so I added the cumin, coriander, and some aleppo, then I liked it much better.

Rating: B


  1. alekz said,

    i finally got around to making this after just thinking of how to use my CSA rutabega for 2+ months. it’s tasty, but a bit on the underspiced, not complex enough flavors side for me. i made pretty much as directed for the rutabega soup, with the following exceptions: (1) used 0.5 T of butter and 2.5 t olive oil (2) my spices were not freshly ground, excepting the caraway (3) my rutabega was really old (4) added about 1 cup of cubed turnip and radish as well. I felt the end result was a little bland, so i first added about another 0.5 t of cumin or more. it was too thick so i added some more water. i added a teaspoon of spicy brown mustard, hoping it would add some tang and to help emulsify. still not satisfied. finally added some shakes of chipotle pepper powder, and that rounded out the flavor, made it more complex, and added a pleasing afterglow of warmth. i later thought that i should have added some of my white sweet miso at least to the water i added. so far i don’t know if i would make it again, but i’m sure we’ll enjoy it this week. – alekz

  2. Whipped » Blog Archive » Rutabaga Romance said,

    […] Should you decide to give rutabagas a try, these recipes look worth a go: ~Buttered Rutabaga with Herbs ~Rutabaga Apple Casserole ~a yummy looking soup […]

  3. Leek and turnip soup with potatoes and chard « The captious vegetarian said,

    […] know about that, but I really like the combination of the flavors. It reminds me a lot of the cruciferous caraway cumin soup, which is also based on a Berley recipe.  The main difference is that this soup is chunky, not […]

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