Turnips
Image: Kristin Belz

Tender young spring turnips are white as snow, with none of the purple tinge that comes with age.

It’s rare to hear someone remark, "it’s time for turnips." But if ever they do say such a thing, now will be the time. And once more of us taste the tiny turnips showing off at the local farmers markets these days, we’re likely to be calling for turnip time more often.

You’ll find this year’s crop is at the markets with greens attached – a sure sign of recent harvest and crisp tenderness. These turnips are not even old enough to get the usual purple halo around their tops. They need not be cooked. Simply slicing and lightly dressing in vinaigrette is delicious. Or cut them into chunks for an unexpected crudite to dip into guacamole or olive tapenade.

Fresh young turnips have a clean flavor and crisp bite that is a good vehicle for any number of dips. It also makes a good crispy addition to salads as well. Or slice tiny turnips, greens and all, to cook in a stir fry.

Better yet, try Molly Watson’s easy soup recipe that uses the small spring turnips – from top to toe – in a light and tasty broth.

Turnip Soup Head to Toe
Ingredients:
1 bunch of turnips with greens, or 3 or 4 turnips and 1 bunch of turnip greens
2 small onions or leeks
2 or 3 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 slices bacon or 2 oz. pancetta, finely chopped (optional)
4 to 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth, depending on how "soupy" you like your soup
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Remove greens from the turnips, if necessary. Wash and rinse the greens and cut them into thin strips. Set aside.
Peel turnips and chop them into small chunks. Set aside.
Peel and finely chop onions or clean and finely chop leeks. Set aside.
Thinly slice garlic and set aside.
Heat oil in a medium pot over medium high heat. Add bacon or pancetta, if you’re using it, and cook until it starts to render its fat. Add onions or leeks, sprinkle with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft, about 3 minutes.
Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add chopped turnips and broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a steady simmer and cook until turnips are tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
Stir in turnip greens and cook until greens are tender, about 2 minutes.
Taste soup and add salt to taste. Serve soup hot, garnished with black pepper, if you like.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.