I spent the morning detailing my refrigerator. Seriously. I gathered my husband’s collection of brushes and probes for the non-greasy parts of the car and small equipment, and went to town. Actually, I wish I’d gone to town. Instead, I stayed home in the falling snow and emptied and cleaned my fussy fridge. I had two goals. One was to stop the flooding. My refrigerator floods itself every so often. I know that sounds silly. What gal in her right mind would buy a (costly German) refrigerator that floods? (I loved its hardware, dimensions and materials. Designers are not always the most rational people on the planet.) It floods when stuff gets crammed against the back wall, which acts like a vertical plane for condensation flowing to a tiny hole at the bottom of an inclined trough. It also floods when the tiny hole gets some little bit stuck in it. How inconvenient.
The other goal in cleaning house was to inventory the storage vegetables remaining after a long winter. It’s always my goal to be ready to start over by Easter, even though there will be a gap in substantial local produce until May.
The fridge coughed up several varieties of turnips and beets, violet and green kohlrabi, a couple of parsnips, and celeriac bulbs. Not to mention cabbage, leeks, and carrots, some of which arrived more recently than the first list. I sorted them into soup groups: the first up would be a root vegetable soup of leeks and onions combined with celeriac, two varieties of turnips, and parsnips. This turned out to be a delicious combination, naturally sweet and creamy. To finish off the soup, I added a touch of half-and-half (cream and milk) and garnished it with spunky, crispy kale chips made from the lone stalk discovered during the clean-out.
Kale chips are terrific snacks and are simple and quick to make. Just be sure to rub the olive oil into the leaves thoroughly (like I did with my kale salad this winter) before salting and slipping them into the oven until dried and crisp. They offered my creamy soup a welcome salty crunch, a change from the typical garnish of snipped fresh herbs.
2 medium-large parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
1 medium celeriac bulb, peeled and cut into chunks
3-4 turnips, peeled and cut into chunks (I used 1 large gold ball turnip and 5 very small white turnips)
1 large leek, white and pale green portions, cleaned and sliced
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
4 c homemade chicken stock
¼ c cream or half-and-half
Garnish: kale chips or fresh parsley, chopped
Place the vegetables in a large pot with the chicken stock, adding water if necessary to cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer until the vegetables are tender. Puree the soup using an immersion blender or food processor and return to the pot. Add salt if necessary.
When ready to serve, add the cream or half-and-half and bring to a simmer. Serve hot, garnished with herbs or kale chips.
Curly kale, leaves stripped from the stems, washed and thoroughly dried
Coarse salt (Kosher or sea salt)
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Tear the kale leaves into small pieces. Place them on a baking sheet and sprinkle them with a little olive oil. Rub the leaves to absorb the oil. Sprinkle with salt. Place the pan in the oven and cook the kale for 10 minutes or a little longer, until the edges start to dry but not brown. Remove from the baking pan to cool.