Some of the most available (and storable) vegetables for the winter season are the root vegetables. They’re versatile and relatively easy to find grown locally. They’re really good for you and they’re really tasty. Which brings me to the lowly, oft maligned turnip. I think it’s kind of sad. (Voice cracking just a little bit.) It’s really tasty. It has a pleasant sharpness to it, and you treat it practically like you treat a potato (roast it or boil it or mash it or put it in a soup). But when was the last time you included a turnip in your dinner plans? I thought as much.
Have no fear! For this Dia de los Muertos (a downright important holiday to us here in the underworld), Persephone is here to give you a quick, five ingredient(!!) dinner that is satisfying and easy on the budget, too. Tonight’s recipe is a silky (+simple) soup with turnips and potato, topped with a garlicky toast piled with some vermouth-steamed shrimp and carmelized shallots.
Sopa de Calaca: Turnip and Potato Soup with Shrimp and Shallots, serves 2 + a three-year old
1 1/2 pounds of turnips, trimmed, lightly peeled and cut into small cubes
1 medium potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
2/3 pound large gulf shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 large shallot, thinly sliced; 1 small shallot, minced
2 T butter, divided
2 or 3 slices of a good rustic bread, toasted and rubbed with a garlic clove
Optional ingredients (look, Persephone is being flexible!): Vermouth, ground sumac, dried savory, olive oil
For the soup:
In a large pot, melt one tablespoon of butter and saute the minced shallot for a minute or two. Then combine the turnips and potatoes in the pot with enough salted water to cover. Cook for fifteen minutes or until the vegetables are very tender. Vegetables are soft when easily pierced with a fork. Transfer vegetables and all liquid to a blender and puree until very smooth. Return to the pot, adjust seasoning.
For the carmelized shallots:
In a very small pan melt the remaining tablespoon of butter and cook the sliced shallots over medium low heat until brown and ready to serve the soup. Season with a bit of salt.
For the shrimp:
Steam the shrimp (that you’ve either seasoned or you haven’t – your choice!) over the liquid of your choice. Tonight I seasoned the shrimp with ground sumac and dried savory, and then drizzled over a bit of olive oil. Just before cooking, I seasoned with salt and pepper. I steamed them over Noilly Pratt, but you could certainly use water, throw a bay leaf or two and some peppercorns in there if you have the strength. (You do.)
In a warm, shallow, wide bowl, ladle in the soup. Float a piece of the toast in the center, top with the shrimp and a bit of the shallots.
Playlist included Dawn of the Dead, by Does It Offend You, Yeah? This song kicks so much ass.