Thursday, June 20, 2013

Turnip & Sunchoke Soup with Oxtail Broth topped with Garlic, Herb & Cheddar Croutons

This is the first of my, vintage recipe remakes. I bought some vintage cookbooks at a local book sale and they feature recipes from different time periods in US history. I was instantly fascinated and bought them all up, at ten cents each! This first recipe comes from the Early America cookbook. The early settlers had a wide variety of ingredients available to them. They used lots of wild game meat, wild poultry and lots of grains from the Native Americans, corn and pagstowr (a type of wheat) along with wild root vegetables.  I found this book and collection of recipes to be very heavy, meat dominated, dishes. Most homes did not have a way of preserving food so they did not cook with a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, except for root vegetables which are heartier and can be stored longer. Turnips would have been very traditional fare back in the Colonial period, like potatoes they can be picked and stored for the entire winter in a root cellar. This soup is hearty and humble, very typical of colonial cookery.

My version of this soup is a little more modern, I use a combination of Japanese white turnips and sunchokes. The white turnips are in season during spring, and they are sweet and a little spicy. They pair nicely with the sweet and nutty sunchokes. I made a homemade broth with local, pasture raised oxtail, one of my favorite stock bones, its full of marrow and makes such a rich and delicious beef stock. The traditional recipe calls for a milk slurry to thicken the soup, I chose to use a potato to thicken the soup because it adds more vegetables, rather than just adding in flour. I also chose to puree the vegetables and then add a bit of pasture raised whole milk at the end, to get a silky and creamy soup, so you wouldn't miss the cream. Traditionally this soup was served in a tureen, ladled over a piece of stale bread. I am not a huge fan of soggy bread, I don't do it for french onion soup either. I chose to make homemade garlic, herb and cheddar croutons that were just amazing. They gave a necessary crunch and they mirrored the herbs and garlic, that were in the soup, just perfectly! A sprinkling of fresh cut garlic scapes and we have some amazing soup people!!

This recipe serves 6-8.



1 Pasture raised oxtail, mine was a little over 1 pound.
2 Organic celery stalks, cut in half.
2 Organic carrots, cut in half, no need to peel.
1 Small onion, cut in half.
2 Cloves organic garlic, cut in half.
1 Tbsp peppercorns
1 Bunch organic thyme
2 Sprigs organic rosemary
2 Fresh, organic bay leaves
Olive oil, for searing the oxtail.


3 Cups homemade oxtail broth
12 Organic, white Japanese turnips, cut into 4's.
2 Organic sunchokes, chopped small.
1 Organic potato, chopped small.
1 Onion, diced.
4 Cloves organic garlic, minced or grated.
1 Sprig organic thyme, leaves only, chopped.
1 Sprig organic rosemary, leaves only, chopped.
Sea salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste.
1 tsp Fresh grated nutmeg
1 Tbsp pasture raised butter
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 Cup pasture raised whole milk
1 Tbsp, per bowl, fresh chopped garlic scapes or chives, optional.


1/2 loaf thick bakery bread, I used a locally made white boule, feel free to use anything you have. You will need about 3 cups of bread cubes.
1 Tbsp pasture raised butter, melted.
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Sprig fresh organic thyme, leaves only, chopped.
1 Sprig fresh organic rosemary, leaves only, chopped.
1 Tbsp organic dried basil
3 Organic garlic cloves, minced or grated.
Sea salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste.
1/4 Cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated. I used Cabot, all the profits go back to the farmers and they use local dairy.



In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Salt and pepper the oxtail, sear and brown on all sides, about 3 minutes a side. Add in the vegetables and herbs and saute for 3 minutes. Add in enough water to cover all the ingredients in the pot, about 4 cups. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 1 hour. Turn off the heat and let cool. Drain through a fine mesh over a large bowl. discard the veggies and herbs, reserve the oxtail and liquid. When it has cooled, skim off any fat and discard. Set aside.


In a dutch oven or large stock pot, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat. Saute all veggies and herbs (not nutmeg) with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Cook till soft, about 10 minutes. Add in the reserved oxtail and the oxtail broth, you need 3 cups of broth so if your broth reduced too much just add in water, I had plenty of broth. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the oxtail, you can discard it at this point or give it to a dog. Blend the soup in batches in a blender till smooth, you want to be very careful when blending hot soup, do not fill the blender more than half way and open the top vent on your cover for steam to escape. I cover it partially with a rag so that it doesn't splatter when you first turn it on. I put each batch of smooth soup into a large bowl till I have the soup pot empty, then I put the whole bowl of soup back in the pot. Return the soup back to the pot and turn the heat on low. Add in milk and nutmeg, taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed. Turn off when the soup is heated through, about 3 minutes.


While the soup is cooking, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place your cubed bread onto a baking sheet.

In a small bowl mix butter, olive oil, herbs, garlic, salt and pepper. Drizzle over the bread and mix with your hands to coat all the bread evenly. Bake till golden brown, about 7-8 minutes. Top with the cheddar cheese and bake for another minute to melt the cheese. Remove from oven.

To serve the soup, ladle soup into a shallow bowl. Top with croutons and fresh chopped garlic scapes or chives and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Early America Cookbook.


  1. This soup sounds delicious Katie. Thanks for sharing it during Our Little Family Adventures Friday Community Party on Facebook.

    1. You are so welcome! Thanks for having me!