Seasonal cooking: Kohlrabi

cross-posted at La Vida Locavore

I decided to start a series on cooking seasonal food. Eating fruits and vegetables when they are in season reduces greenhouse gas emissions from transporting food from across the country or around the world.

More important, fresh food in season tastes better and retains more vitamins. Plus, if you buy directly from a farmer or farmer’s market, you are supporting your local economy.

It’s also more satisfying to eat the first asparagus or broccoli or potatoes or whatever of the season, because you’ve waited months for them.

I belong to a CSA (that stands for community-supported agriculture), and last week I got a large kohlrabi in my box. The easiest thing to do with kohlrabi is to peel it, dice it and add it to any stir-fry dish for crunch.

However, I have found a couple of recipes I prefer. One comes from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian, which is so comprehensive that it has four kohlrabi recipes. If you don’t already own this book, you should go out and find a copy.

The other is my own soup recipe for kohlrabi with caraway, which I adapted from a recipe in the New Covent Garden Soup Company’s Book of Soups book.

Adventurous eaters, join me after the jump.

From Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian

Spicy Kohlrabi with Corn (from India)

1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

2 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 fresh hot green chile, coarsely chopped

1 tsp distilled white vinegar

3 Tbsp peanut or canola oil

1 tsp brown mustard seeds

1 medium tomato, finely chopped (I’ve left the tomato out, and it was still good)

4 cups corn kernels (Jaffrey calls for fresh corn, but I use frozen unless I have been able to buy very fresh sweet corn from a farmer)

2 medium kohlrabies, peeled and diced

1 tsp salt

freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp garam masala (I’ve used a bit more)

2 to 3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro (I leave this out, because I don’t care for cilantro, and it’s fine)

Put ginger, garlic, chile, vinegar, and 4 Tbsp water into blender or food processor. Blend to make a paste.

Heat oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add mustard seeds. When they pop, add paste. Stir and fry until oil seems to separate, about 1 minute. Add tomato. Turn heat to medium and cook until tomato is soft. Add corn, kohlrabi, 1 cup water, salt and pepper to taste. Stir and bring to a simmer.

Cover and turn heat down to low. Cook gently for 10-12 minutes. Add lemon juice, garam masala, and cilantro. Stir and cook gently, uncovered, for another 2-3 minutes.

Serve with rice or any bread.

desmoinesdem’s Kohlrabi and Potato Soup with Caraway seeds (inspired by the New Covent Garden Soup Company)

This book was published in the UK. In the original recipe, all the quantities are in weight rather than volume. They also call for boiling the onions in water before adding to the soup, putting in single cream at the end, and garnishing with chopped parsley and 3 rashers of bacon, fried and crumbled.

I adapted the recipe to make it vegetarian. I also changed the quantities to make the soup thicker and use more onion (sauteed rather than boiled). I added potatoes because I like them in the soup, although it tastes fine with just kohlrabi. I reduced the amount of caraway. Finally, I replaced the single cream with full-fat plain unsweetened yogurt. You could leave out the cream or yogurt for a vegan soup.

1 large or 2 medium kohlrabi, peeled and chopped

1 large or 2 medium onions, peeled and chopped

a little oil or butter for sauteing

a little plain flour

a few cups stock or water with bouillon

parsley if you want to use it as a garnish

a little plain yogurt (I don’t measure, but I probably add around one-half cup)

1 teaspoon caraway seeds

a few potatoes (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

Chop the onion and saute in a soup pot with a little oil or butter (I usually use grapeseed oil or coconut oil) on medium or medium-low heat. While it’s cooking, peel and chop the kohlrabi and add it to the pot. Saute for 5 to 10 minutes.

Add just enough water or stock to barely cover the vegetables. For me, this seems to be about three cups, but it will depend on how much kohlrabi you used. Bring to a boil, add bouillon if you’re using water, stir and reduce heat. Simmer gently for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, if you want to add potatoes to the soup, scrub a few potatoes and boil them in a separate pot of water.

When the kohlrabi is cooked, let soup cool slightly and puree in a blender or food processor. Return to soup pot and stir in yogurt (or cream), caraway seeds and salt, pepper and parsley to taste.

If you are using potatoes, once they are cooked, slip off the peels and mash by hand or run through a hand-powered food mill. You don’t want to puree potato soup in a blender or food processor, because the texture will turn gluey.

Add the mashed potatoes to the kohlrabi soup. You may need to add a little water at that point to thin out the soup, depending on your taste. I like thick soup.

This soup is a great simple meal, with rye bread or just by itself, perhaps with one green vegetable on the side (or a salad–I’m not a salad person, though).

This recipe will make enough for three or four people to have more than one helping, or it will serve six as a first course.  

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