Root Down Chowder

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I got turnips and rutabagas in my CSA box. At first, I did not know what I was going to do with them. Turnips, rutabagas, and potatoes are kind of similar and I thought they would probably taste great together. I took the idea further with the addition of other root vegetables like carrots and onions. I was super happy with the way this soup/chowder turned out…so good. Seriously, so good. Hoping for more turnips and rutabagas in next week’s box.

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Root Down Chowder

1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, cut in half and sliced
2 tablespoons butter (or oil)
2 tablespoons flour
1 large turnip, peeled, ends trimmed, and diced
1 large rutabaga, peeled, ends trimmed, and diced
1 large potato, peeled and diced
6 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup cream (or half and half)
salt and pepper, to taste
dill, fresh or dried, to garnish (optional)

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, minced garlic, and sliced carrot, and cook until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Whisk in vegetable broth, and bring to a boil. Add the diced turnip, rutabaga, and potato. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Reduce heat, and simmer until the root vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the cream and heat through. At this point, I like to take a potato masher and break up some of the root vegetables. You could puree the soup if you like it that way. Serve the soup in bowls. The soup is delicious topped with a sprinkle of dill.

Gumbo z’Herbes

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My fridge was overflowing with a variety of greens from my CSA boxes. It was a little overwhelming. What the heck am I going to do with all of these greens (especially rutabaga greens)? Luckily, I remembered reading about a Cajun dish using different greens. I scoured the internets looking at dozens of recipes, each one different from the last. Gumbo z’Herbes, also known as Green Gumbo, is basically a roux, Cajun mirepoix, and a medley of greens cooked until super tender. Easy enough.

Making the roux is an important step in this dish. The darker the roux, the better. You have to stir it constantly because it will burn right fast. I aim to get my roux to be the same color as a penny. This takes some time, about 30 minutes. The effort is worth it.

Traditionally, gumbo z’herbes is made with an odd number of greens. I used 5 different types of greens in my gumbo z’herbes: rutabaga greens, collards, spinach, mustard greens, and cabbage. If you can’t find 5 different types of fresh greens, it is fine to use some frozen greens.

Initially, I set out to make this a vegan dish. Traditionally, this is a vegetarian dish eaten during Lent. I had some smoked sausage in the freezer and decided to go with it. It gave the dish a great smoky flavor. If you wanted to make the dish without meat, a dash of liquid smoke would give the dish a similar smokiness.

Gumbo z’Herbes (Green Gumbo)

1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup flour
2 large onions, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups water
1 bunch each of at least 5 different greens (such as mustard greens, collards, spinach, kale, cabbage, beet tops, turnip greens, rhutabaga greens, swiss chard, sorrel, chicory, radish leaves, carrot tops, dandelion greens, lettuce [romaine, red leaf, green leaf, etc… do not  use iceburg], parsley, watercress, arugula, etc….)
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon thyme
3 bay leaves
salt and black pepper, to taste
12 ounces smoked sausage (preferably Andouille), sliced

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until dark golden brown, 15 – 30 minutes. Add the onions, celery, bell peppers, and garlic and cook, stirring often, until soft, 8-10 minutes.

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Add the 8 cups of water to pot. Increase the heat to high and bring to boil. Add the greens, cayenne, Tabasco, thyme, and bay leaves. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until greens are very soft, about 1 hour. Add the sliced sausage and simmer 30 more minutes.

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Remove the bay leaves before serving. Serve gumbo over cooked white rice.