Sunday, May 13, 2012

Gingery Chinese Soup with Turnips and Turnip Greens

I have to admit, when I got my share from the CSA this week I was most challenged by the  turnips and what to do with them.  Turnips aren't something that I eat regularly or that catch my eye when I'm in the grocery store.  I haven't gotten to the point where I can create my own recipes yet (one day I hope!), but I have found some amazing food blogs and usually look to the internet for ideas, especially when it is something relatively unfamiliar like turnips. 

I originally found this recipe here, and made a few minor changes to it.  The main difference is that I omitted the bouillon cubes.  I avoid eating anything that has come from a package, and in this case I didn't miss the bouillon at all.  I just added additional Himalayan pink sea salt and tamari and it was just as good!

This soup is meant to be gingery, so reduce the amount of ginger if you think the ginger in this recipe might be too much. For authentic Chinese flavor, I use a dark, toasted sesame oil. It’s well worth buying and keeping on hand. Dark sesame oil delivers more flavor per teaspoon than any oil I’ve encountered.  This recipe serves six generously, so give some away, invite friends or keep it safely in the fridge!
  • 10 cups boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 5-6 medium shiitake mushrooms (stems removed), sliced
  • 3 medium carrots, cut lengthwise, then into thin diagonal slices
  • 3 tablespoons ginger, peeled (if necessary) and julienned (about a 3-inch piece of ginger)
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger (optional)
  • 6-8 small turnips, trimmed and quartered or cut into six, depending on size
  • Fresh greens from one or two bunches of small turnips, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • sea salt (Himalayan pink sea salt is my favorite!), freshly ground black pepper, tamari (or soy sauce if gluten isn't an issue), to taste
  • green onions, thinly sliced for the garnish (optional)
1. Bring the water to a boil in a large pot.
2. Heat the oil in a large dutch oven, or similar pot. Add the mushrooms and onions and sauté on medium high heat 3-4 minutes. Add the carrots, ginger and turnips and sauté 3-4 minutes more. Add a pinch of salt, and two teaspoons of soy sauce.
3. Add 10 cups of the hot water and the mirin.  Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat so everything simmers gently for about 25 minutes or until all the vegetables are very tender. Skim off any foam which may have collected on the surface.
4. Add the turnip greens and continue simmering for 5 minutes or until the greens are cooked to your liking.  Taste and adjust by adding sea salt, tamari, and freshly ground black pepper. Simmer a minute or two more.  Turn off  heat and add a few drops of the sesame oil.
5. Ladle into bowls and garnish with the green onion (optional)

Health Benefits
Part of my journey into healthy, whole eating has been learning more about what I'm putting into my body and what benefits it provides.  When I have time, I plan to share with you some of the health benefits of some of the ingredients in the recipes.  Today I'll highlight the ginger, turnips and shiitake mushrooms.

Ginger - I haven't always cared for ginger, but it has recently become a staple of my diet.  I put a few slices in my juicer every day, and it not only adds good flavor but has lots of health benefits as well!  The best benefit of ginger for me is that it relieves gastrointestinal distress.  It helps with nausea (specifically for pregnancy and chemotherapy), motion sickness and has a lot of anti-inflammatory properties.  Research has shown that it may also protect again colorectal cancer and induces cell death in ovarian cancer cells.  Ginger also promotes sweating, which can be helpful when you are sick or wanting to do a detox.  I definitely recommend adding it to your diet whenever possible!  More on the benefits of ginger can be found here.

Turnips from the Clemson Organic Farm
Turnips - What's great about turnips is that they are a starchy vegetable but provide only one third the amount of calories as an equal amount of potatoes - making for a great diet alternative. Turnips provide an excellent source of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that can help prevent asthma symptoms, forms of cancer, skin problem and eye disorders and heart disorders due to their high lutein content, as well as insoluble fiber that can protect against atherosclerosis.  The vitamin C content of turnips can also help to fight against free radicals and destructive reactions taking place in the body. Turnip greens are even more nutritious than the root, rich in beta-carotene that can relieve rheumatoid arthritis and other degenerative diseases among other health benefits.  They're also chock full of vitamins A, B6, C, E, folic acid, calcium, copper, fiber and manganese (Source - Organic Authority)

Shitake mushrooms - My favorite mushrooms, I use them whenver possible!  Shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms are widely referred to as "medicinal mushrooms" and have been used in Chinese medicine for 6,000 years. 

“Shitake mushrooms are a great addition to anyone’s diet and are mainly known for their immune system support,” says dietitian Kait Fortunato. They contain lentinan, which makes our immune system strong, helping to fight off disease and infection. The American Cancer Society says lentinan is believed to stop or slow tumor growth, too, though it notes that more clinical trials are needed to understand the mushrooms’ effectiveness.  Shitake mushrooms also contain a compound called D-Eritadenine (DEA).  DEA helps lower cholesterol and supports cardiovascular health.  Finally, shiitakes are a good source of iron and antioxidants. The iron is key for vegetarians, whose diets may be lacking in it, while antioxidants help reduce free radicals.

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