I recently received a massive bunch of turnip greens in my CSA share. No turnips, just the greens. At first I was confused, thinking it must be some flat leafed variety of kale. Upon checking the list of items, however, I was surprised to find it was - yes - actually turnip greens.
The local food movement also includes the food waste movement. In the United States nearly one third of the food supply is wasted, equaling more than 20 pounds of food per person per month. Much of this waste occurs at the farm level. Just think how fast that bunch of greens goes bad in your refrigerator and now imagine a farmer that can't get his produce to market before it begins to wilt. There goes 100 pounds of produce before it even hits the market.
Simultaneously, we are facing a crisis as more and more small farmers are going out of business due to their inability to compete with the artificially low food prices created by farm subsidies, unfair workers conditions, and inhumane practices occuring at the industrial level.
Your local farmer didn't just decide that his fruits and vegetables are gourmet items and therefore should be priced higher. He or she is pricing them based on what it actually costs for them to produce them. Imagine that!
A recent discovery in both combating food waste and supporting small farmers is to use parts of the vegetable that were previously removed and discarded. This includes the greens of many root vegetables including beets, turnips and radishes as well as the tops of garlic bulbs now known as garlic scapes. Many of these items were eaten for centuries until we began discarding them because food became so much easier to access and we no longer needed to eat the "scraps".
When you learn ways to cook with these items and purchase them from your local farmer or just cook with them instead of tossing them in the bin, you are not only preventing them from adding to the massive food waste problem we have in the U.S., but you are providing an additional income stream for your local farmer, who is most likely struggling to stay afloat. Now, instead of only being able to sell the turnips for a small profit, your farmer can use the same amount of energy and earn an additional profit from the sale of the greens. Win win!
Now go find your local farmer and tell them that you want to buy their turnip greens for this fabulous soup recipe!
- 4 Tbs butter
- 1 Tbs all-purpose flour (I use a Gluten Free substitute like Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Spicy or Sweet Italian Sausage, removed from casing (you can also use a chorizo or andouille sausage)
- 8 cups vegetable broth
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp cayenne (you can decrease amount based on preference)
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp italian spices
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Pepper
- 1 bunch turnip greens, chopped (you can also substitute other leafy greens sucha as mustard greens or beet greens)
- 16oz can white beans, drained and rinsed (cannellini or great northern)
In a large pot, melt butter over moderately low heat and whisk in flour. Cook the roux, whisking constantly, for three minutes until it begins to brown. Increase heat to medium and add onion and garlic and cook until onions are soft and translucent, about three minutes. Add garlic powder, cayenne, paprika, italian spices, salt and pepper and stir until incorporated.
Cook sausage in onion mixture until browned breaking up into smaller pieces with the spatula.
Add vegetable broth while stirring the entire time. Add turnip greens and white beans and cover pot. Decrease heat and let cook for 30 minutes until greens have become soft and darkened to a deep green.
*Though this soup is delicious when first cooked, it is even better after sitting for a day in the refrigerator as it thickens nicely. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to a week.