Sheri Castle: Creamy Baby Turnip Soup with Smoked Trout Butter

Creamy Baby Turnip Soup with Smoked Trout Butter

This soup is silky, soothing, and mild. I like to use those little thin-skinned white Japanese turnips about the size of a ping-pong ball, but any variety will do so long as they are not so large that they are pithy, woody, or strong smelling. The effect of swirling the richly flavored butter into the soup when it’s served is amazing. The heat of the soup melts the butter and releases its aroma, and the smokiness of the trout and bacon make the soup complete.

Be sure to use hot-smoked fish in the butter. That means that the fish is fully cooked, meaty, and deeply flavored. I use trout because North Carolina’s rivers yield some of the world’s best trout, but you can use hot-smoked salmon or whatever the specialty is where you live. This butter is good in other simple soups, such as potato soup or corn chowder. It’s also good as a spread for crackers. It does wonders for a plain baked potato.

Makes 2 quarts of soup and 1 1/2 cups of butter

2 tablespoons butter
2 leeks (white and tender green parts only), cleaned and sliced
1 medium onion, peeled and diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 pounds very small and mild turnips, trimmed and sliced (about 5 cups)
1 medium russet potato, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
4 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 cup whole milk or half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more to taste
Smoked Trout Butter, for serving (recipe follows)

1. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and onion and a pinch of salt and stir to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the turnips, potato, stock, and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, partially cover the pot, and simmer until the vegetables are completely tender, about 25 minutes.

2. Purée in a blender (working in batches to not fill the blender more than half full) and return it to the pot, or purée the soup directly in the pot with an immersion blender. Stir in the milk and heat through. Season with the nutmeg and pepper, plus more salt if needed.

3. To serve, ladle the hot soup into serving bowls. Top each serving with 3 tablespoons of Smoked Trout Butter and serve at once.

Make-ahead note: You can make the soup up to 1 day ahead; cool, cover, and refrigerate. Stir well and check the seasoning when you reheat it for serving.

Smoked Trout Butter

Makes 1 1/2 cups

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup finely chopped cooked bacon (from about 3 thick slices)
3/4 cup skinless hot-smoked trout, crumbled (about 3 ounces)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Beat the butter in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon until smooth. Fold in the bacon, trout, and dill. Wrap well and chill until firm.

Make-ahead note: You can make the butter up to 4 days ahead. Store covered and refrigerated.


Sheri Castle is a food writer and cooking instructor based in Chapel Hill, N.C. Visit the author’s website here. Become a fan of her book on Facebook here, or follow the author on Twitter @shericastle.

Recipes from The New Southern Garden Cookbook: Enjoying the Best from Homegrown Gardens, Farmers’ Markets, Roadside Stands, and CSA Farm Boxes by Sheri Castle. Copyright © 2011 by Sheri Castle.