Turnip and Potato Soup

It’s a New Year, which means many folks are just starting (or restarting) a new healthy eating adventure. One of the more popular eating challenges is the Whole30 (heck, it’s the #6 book on Amazon as of this morning). It’s been a few years since I’ve done a Whole30, which is a 30-day program with explicit guidelines. It doesn’t stray far from the way I eat anyway, other than the fact that it’s more stringent on honey, alcohol, dairy, and rice than my typical diet.

One thing I remember from my last Whole30 (in 2012, if memory serves me) was that I had a hard time keeping up my carb intake – at the time, the only carb-heavy foods allowed were sweet potatoes, beets, and plantains, which grew tiresome after a month of eating them. Luckily, the folks behind Whole30 remedied that in 2014, when they added white potatoes to their list of allowed foods. Hopefully this recipe – which includes two starchy vegetables – will make this month’s Whole30 a bit easier for everyone (also, don’t forget about this guide which transforms 94% of the 250+ recipes in Paleo Takeout to be Whole3o-compliant).

The turnip is one of the first cultivated vegetables, with some records dating back 17,000 years. Turnip roots aren’t as popular in the US as their greens, which are similar to mustard greens in taste. This soup is one of my favorite ways to prepare turnips, as it accentuates the natural creaminess of the root; serve this to your guests, and they won’t believe you that it’s dairy-free. Adding potatoes to the soup adds more body and heft to the dish, warming the belly on these cold winter evenings.

Fun fact: the rutabaga, another common root vegetable, was originally a cross-cultivation of the turnip and cabbage. It is also referred to as “neep” in some countries, likely a carryover from the Old English word næp (and before that, the Latin word napus), which meant “turnip”. Rutabagas and turnips are often confused for one another, with a common misconception that rutabagas are just large turnips.

I like to cut the potatoes just a smidge larger than the turnips, since the potatoes cook more quickly; this will allow both veggies to be ready at the same time.

Turnip and Potato Soup (Paleo, Primal, Whole30 adaptable, Gluten-Free, Perfect Health Diet)

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy

2 tbsp ghee or olive oil
1 onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs turnips, peeled and cut into large chunks
1.5 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves (dried okay)
2 bay leaves
2 dashes ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
sprigs of fresh thyme to garnish

1. In a stockpot, warm the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened and starting to caramelize, about 5 minutes, then add the garlic and sauté until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the turnips, potatoes, broth, thyme, bay leaves, and nutmeg; stir to combine. Simmer until the vegetables are just starting to fall apart, about 20 minutes, reducing heat if needed to maintain a steady but gentle simmer.

2. Fish out the bay leaves, then transfer to a blender and blend until smooth, in batches if needed (alternatively, use an immersion blender). Return to the stockpot and keep heated over low heat. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired, then serve garnished with sprigs of fresh thyme.

28 thoughts on “Turnip and Potato Soup

  1. Yum! How did you know that I’m looking for more healthy soup recipes right now. My pumpkin soup, leek-potato-cauliflower and celery root-cauliflower soups are so delicious, but yesterday I poured over cookbooks looking for more recipes. After I make your pea soup tonight, this one will be next!

    Question on the turnips: I’m assuming that you recommend the plain-Jane big white turnips with the purple blush at the top? I wonder how this would be with the more tender Tokyo turnips, or at least some of them thrown in, or would that be too bitter?

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    1. You’re going to love the pea soup! Yes, just the basic purple-topped turnip is what I used. The smaller the turnip the more delicate the flavor – I would aim for turnips that are about the size of a baseball or smaller. Tokyo turnips should work fine, or a mixture of the two, even; they’re fairly mild so the soup should still come out pretty balanced. Good questions!

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  2. Fascinating! I never realized that rutabagas had cabbage in their ancestry!

    I’ll give this recipe a try in a day or so: I’ll be using Yukon golds (that’s what I got) because they’re the one potato that doesn’t beg me to lay on the salt!

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  3. This sounds really good. Have you tried making this recipe with white sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes? I’m looking into converting this recipe into something compliant with the AIP (Autoimmune Protocol), remove the nutmeg, ghee, garlic, and onions, so I know the flavor will change.

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    1. I would favor parsnips over white sweet potato – they’ll impart a bit more starch and hold the soup together better, and will add a nice woody taste that you’d lose from omitting the nutmeg. For AIP, I would add a dash of ground mace and a pinch of ground cloves to bring some warmth to the dish. Good luck!

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  4. I was looking in your book for a recipe to make with kale and came across colcannon ( it was delish btw) and now this has sparked the idea of using the turnips instead of the heavy cream. Do you think that will work? I have a friend who eats gluten free, dairy free vegan and loves kale so I thought it might be something we could share.

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    1. Hi Loretta, you’ll need to add some liquid to the Colcannon – a combination of chicken/vegetable broth and coconut milk works well without adding a “tropical” flavor to the potatoes. Mixing in some turnips will also add a creaminess to the flavor!

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  5. I made this last week- super yum! I added a drizzle of olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese though (I know that defeats the dairy free purpose), which made it even better.

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