We have this book, Eating the Alphabet, that has become a bit of a challenge for me. There is no story line. No plot. No characters that develop. It is simply a list of fruits and vegetables, arranged in alphabetical order and accompanied by illustrations of said fruits and vegetables. But every time I sit on the couch and read this book to the boys, I end up not just reading the words on the page but saying, “We’ve eaten this and this and this and this, but we still haven’t tried this!” And then I make a mental note to try to find a particular missing link at the grocery store next time I’m out. We’re actually doing really well, although I’ve yet to see gooseberries or huckleberries at any grocery store, anywhere. And I’m not sure what “xigua” is. It looks like a seedless watermelon to me, but I haven’t googled it yet so I don’t know.
But I am happy to say that I can cross “turnip” off the list — or possibly just move it over to the list of foods we now eat. Because after I made this leek and turnip soup, I must say I’m looking forward to finding some more room for turnips in our lives. I hope you enjoy it, too.
And look out, parsnips, I’m coming for you.
Leek, Turnip and Rice Soup adapted, barely, from The New York Times
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 large leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned and sliced
1 pound turnips, peeled and cut in 1/2-inch dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 quarts vegetable or chicken stock
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup rice (the original suggests arborio, but I think any medium- or short-grained rice would be fine)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
freshly grated Parmesan
In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring often, until leeks are beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the turnips and continue to cook, stirring often, until the leeks tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook, stirring for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the stock or water, salt, bay leaf and rice. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Discard the bay leaf. Add some pepper, stir in the parsley and serve, passing the Parmesan at the table for sprinkling.