Kohlrabi and Baby Leek Soup

Kohlrabi and Baby Leek Soup

Mains & Sides Recipe

My husband and I were at the Farmers Market. He wanted kohlrabi; I wanted baby leeks. I thought I’d make a soup with both. That’s essentially how this recipe was created.  And while the recipe is written for kohlrabi and baby leeks, there are some alternate ingredients included below. When visiting friends in Seattle and wanting to make it for a dinner party, kohlrabi and baby leeks weren’t available or in season. So, I used what was at hand locally and in my friends’ pantry. I know you aren’t supposed to experiment when cooking for others but I made a rutabaga, which I’ve never cooked but is from the same brassica family, and leek soup. Both soups were equally delicious and didn’t disappoint.

The flavor profile using kohlrabi versus rutabaga is mildly different – hints of sweet, peppery broccoli stem versus bitter turnip. And, the kohlrabi will create a slightly thicker soup. Pick your desired combination and enjoy!

  • 5 Tbs unsalted butter, separated, plus more for flavor if needed
  • 4 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 bunch baby leeks* (about 5-6) chopped; use entire leek
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 small to medium kohlrabi,** greens and stems removed, cut into ½-inch chunks
  • 1 medium Yukon potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch chunks
  • 5 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • Aleppo pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3-4 sprigs of thyme, plus extra for flavor or garnish
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pecorino Romano cheese,*** grated, for garnish

Heat 4 Tbs of butter and the olive oil in a large pot on medium heat, melting the butter until it is slightly foaming. Add baby leeks and onion and cook until the onions become slightly translucent, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add thyme sprigs and 3 generous pinches of Aleppo pepper. Reduce heat slightly and cook until leeks or onions just start to caramelize.

Add kohlrabi, potato and 1 tsp salt. Return heat to medium and cook about 5-7 minutes.

Add stock and bay leaf. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, or until kohlrabi and potato are tender.

Remove pot from heat and discard bay leaf and thyme stems. Purée mixture with a hand blender until smooth and creamy. Add stock to thin or cook longer to reach your desired consistency. Taste and add chopped thyme, Aleppo pepper, salt and/or pepper to adjust seasonings as needed. Butter can also be added if desired (which I did for the rutabaga variation.)

Return pot to heat and cook on low until ready to serve. Garnish with Pecorino Romano and thyme. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 3-4 dinner portions or 6-8 side portions.

Alternative Ingredients (interchangeable for one or all of the above):
* 2 leeks, white and light green portions only, chopped
**1 large rutabaga, peeled and cut into ½-inch chunks
*** Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated

Balkan Polenta with Rapini

Balkan Polenta with Rapini

Mains & Sides Recipe

To me, this is comfort food. The warm, sweet flavor of the polenta combined with bitter rapini and salty, tangy feta and makes my mouth water. Balkan polenta is made with coarse cornmeal, which gives it a more defined texture. And while I love Greek feta, I like a softer and stronger Bulgarian feta for this and other baked dishes. I also only buy feta swimming in brine. The brine keeps the cheese moist and gives it has a longer shelf life. When first made the polenta will have a softer consistency like porridge. As it sits it will firm and cut nicely into squares. It’s also great as leftovers. One next-day idea shown in the photo below: cut it into squares; brush the squares with olive oil; and bake at 350 deg F until golden.

Polenta
• 1 ½ cups coarse yellow cornmeal
• 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
• ½ cup olive oil
• 1 ¾ cups feta, freshly crumbled
• 1 cup yogurt
• ½ lb rapini, washed and coarsely chopped
• Salt and Pepper to taste

Topping
• ¼ cup olive oil
• 4 small garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 1 tsp Allepo or Urfa Biber pepper (alternatively one pinch of crushed pepper flakes)
• ½ cup white wine or scant ½ cup vegetable or chicken stock
• 1 Tsp fresh thyme, chopped
• Juice of lemon to taste (optional)
• Salt (optional)

Mix the cornmeal with 1 ½ cups cold water in a bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes.

In meantime, bring stock to boil. Add rapini and cornmeal, stirring frequently for 10 to 12 minutes. Add olive oil and cook for additional 5 minutes, or until mixture thickens. Remove mixture from heat and fold in the feta and yogurt. Salt and pepper to taste.

For the topping, heat the olive oil in a small skillet. Sauté the garlic for 30 seconds or until fragrant, and then add the pepper. Add the wine or stock and when sauce starts to bubble, simmer on low for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat, taste and add salt and lemon juice to taste. Drizzle the sauce over the polenta. (If sensitive to salt or lemon, I suggest adding after sauce is added to polenta.)

Baked Balkan Polenta Squares Option