Rutabaga also is known as yellow turnip even though it's not really a turnip, just a close relative. Whatever its lineage, the winter vegetable is worth trying. It has a lovely, sweet flavor and is great roasted, sauteed or cooked in soup and stews.
This soup is heavy on the vegetables and legumes and light on the ham, which is used more as a seasoning than as a main ingredient. Like most lentil soups, it's a wonderful winter tonic, hearty enough to serve as supper with a hunk of bread or as a nice start to a meal.
Servings: 8 - 10 appetizer servings, 5 to 6 main-course
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large rib celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice (3/4 cup)
- 1 small onion, finely chopped (4 ounces, 3/4 cup)
- 2 medium cloves garlic
- 8 ounces dried green or brown lentils, rinsed and picked over (1 1/2 cups)
- 8 ounces peeled rutabagas (yellow turnips) or white turnips, cut into roughly 1/2-inch cubes (1 1/2 cups)
- 8 ounces Yukon Gold or all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into roughly 1/2-inch cubes (1 1/2 cups)
- 4 ounces ham, coarsely chopped (1 cup)
- 4 cups no-salt-added or homemade chicken broth
- Freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a 4-quart pot over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the celery and onion, lower the heat to medium and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the garlic; cook for 2 minutes. Add the lentils, cubed rutabagas or turnips, potatoes, chopped ham and broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the broth comes to a boil, then cover the pot with a lid placed slightly ajar. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes, adjusting the heat so the broth barely bubbles around the edges, until the lentils and the vegetables are cooked through.
Process the soup with an immersion (stick) blender; or transfer it in batches to a blender, removing the center of the lid and covering with a towel to avoid splash-ups, and process. Leave the texture coarse; it's okay to have a few chunks of potato or rutabaga. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Serve hot; or transfer to a resealable container and allow to cool, then cover and refrigerate. Reheat before serving; if the soup is too thick, add water to reach the desired consistency.
From Nourish columnist Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
Tested by Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
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