This is a pretty simple soup recipe from the winter section of Peter Berley’s cookbook Fresh Food Fast. The unusual addition is 1 tsp. of whole caraway seeds, which are sauteed with butter, garlic, and two leeks. Then you add turnips, potatoes, water, and salt. The final step is to add a bunch of roughly chopped Swiss chard and lots of pepper.
Berley often calls for caraway seeds in his recipes, but usually I feel like the amount is so small that I can’t really taste them. But in this recipe the caraway really comes through. Berley says that he includes the caraway because (like cumin and fennel) it helps us digest sulfurous vegetables like turnips. I don’t 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 pureed. Also this recipe calls for chard, which added a nice green color and more textural contrast.
I don’t normally like turnips or rutabagas that much, but I quite enjoyed both these soups. For this soup, though, the one problem was that it seemed a little greasy (from 3 Tbs. of butter). But we tried only using 2 Tbs. of butter and by the time the leeks were sauteed there wasn’t enough free fat left to saute the garlic. Maybe we need to start with only 1 tablespoon and then add the second tablespoon with the garlic. Also, the broth in this recipe seemed a little watery tasting. Maybe it would be better to use vegetable broth, or at least a bouillon cube? It needed something. Derek suggested sausage or bacon or something like that. Maybe a little smoked paprika? I wouldn’t want to muddy up the clean flavors though.
Berley suggests serving this soup with grilled gruyere and red onion sandwiches, but I think that combination is too starchy. Potatoes and turnips and bread? I would instead serve the grilled cheese with a salad or less starchy soup (maybe tomato), and serve this soup with something higher in protein. Derek suggested making it with Berley’s barbecued tempeh.