Sunday, May 31, 2015

Eating Turnip Greens Part Two - Blackeyed Pea, Turnip Green, and Ham Soup

About two weeks ago, I tried my hand at trying to figure out a way to eat some of the turnips I'd planted as a cover crop that would be tasty enough that I wouldn't dread eating them if I ever had no choice but to eat turnips.  I'm still a little concerned that I might get shipwrecked Robinson-Crusoe-style with only a big bag of turnip seeds to keep me company and no good idea about how to make them halfway appetizing, so that every meal turns into a miserable battle between starving and choking down yet another bowl of bitter turnip greens.

My previous attempt at cooking and eating turnips wasn't a roaring success, the mashed turnips and potatoes weren't that bad and I could see eating them on a regular basis if I found myself all by myself on an island, but the turnip greens had some sort of bitterness that turned up in every couple of bites that I didn't really care for.

On my second attempt at eating turnips, I decided to make a blackeye pea / turnip green soup.  I'm pretty sure that most of the bitterness comes from the stems of the greens, so when it came time to get some turnip greens I made a point of just picking the upper leaves from the turnips instead of pulling the whole thing and trimming off the stems.  When I was picking these greens it occurred to me that I ought to try cooking turnip greens again with greens picked this way to see if the bitterness factor isn't as bad (stay tuned for that exciting action-packed update).

As an extra bonus for the frugal-minded shipwrecked turnip grower, the turnips will keep growing after pulling a few handfuls of greens from your turnip patch so you can make those mashed turnips sometime in the future without worrying about storing the turnips you've just pulled. 
Only the best of the turnip greens for me
After getting my turnip greens picked, making the soup was pretty simple, I'm not going to be able to cook anything that complicated if I ever find myself stranded on a deserted island so simple needs to be one of the objectives in this whole exercise of turnipy cookery.  To make my soup, I greatly simplified a recipe for Blackeyed Pea Soup that I found online.

I used a pressure cooker and threw in about a cup of dry blackeyed peas, a small ham steak that I found buried deep in the freezer which I cut up into little pieces, a chopped up onion, a little garlic, and about 4 cups of water.  Add a good slug of creole seasoning, maybe a little hot sauce, bring to a boil, then put the turnip greens on top, and put the lid on the pressure cooker.  After about 10-12 minutes of the pressure cooker doing it's whole pressure cooker jiggling thing, it should be done cooking, so either release the pressure or let it cool down on its own.     
Blackeyed Peas, Onion, Turnip Greens, and Ham
Once I removed the lid, I stirred the greens into the rest of the soup and they sort of fell apart and blended nicely with everything else. Cooked this way the turnip greens have a taste that's hard to describe, they blend in with the other tastes almost like a seasoning instead of an ingredient. 
Tastes better than it looks and it doesn't look that bad
A couple of bowls of soup with some cornbread made a halfway decent lunch, and I think I'm pretty confident that I could eat this regularly if I ever find that I have to be Rich Crusoe on an inhospitable island with some turnips that I have to eat on a regular basis.  I could also see eating it without being stranded on a deserted island, it would be a good way to eat your blackeyed peas on New Years Day although you might have to freeze your turnip greens (if that's possible). 

It would be even better if I'd had some better chunks of ham, if I'd soaked the blackeyed peas beforehand, if I'd used some stock (ham or chicken) instead of water, adding more turnip greens might be a good idea, and a little cooked rice added to the soup after it was done might have been worth the effort.

Some kind of soup with beef or chicken, the turnip root, and the turnip greens might also be worth trying.  

The soup more than makes up for the bitterness of the turnip greens, although I still might try the turnip greens again without as many stems to see what they taste like. 


  1. That sure looks good to me. That's exactly the sort of stew I'd like to have if shipwrecked on an island.

    In my experiments, I got to where I actually liked eating the turnip greens and roots (I did similar stews as you did but threw the cut up roots in too). The next phase of experimentation for me was blending it all up, and I decided that was my favorite.

    I'm enjoying my break from vegetable gardening this year... but your photos of turnip stew are really starting to motivate me to get the tiller running and put in some turnips this Fall...

    1. I was thinking that some sort of meaty soup with little chunks of turnip root and the greens might be pretty good, and mixing some turnip greens into my mashed turnips and potatoes was another idea. The key to eating the greens as I see it is the remove those stems as much as you can, or adjust the bitterness factor by carefully adjusting the amount of stem.

      Tiller, schmiller, just make some seed balls by mixing some turnip seed, compost, and clay like I did back in Feb. Some of the best looking turnips I grew were growing out in the grass where I sprayed out my bucket with water to clean it.

  2. With my luck, I would end up on the deserted island with a big bag of turnip seeds, another large back of dried up blackeyed peas and no pot to cook them in.

    1. What are the odds that you'd be saved from the depths of the ocean, then be thrown on the beach with a bunch of turnip seeds and blackeyed peas, and not have a pressure cooker also wash up on the beach?

      If you were unlucky enough to not have a pot, you'd just have to chase down one of the multitudes of animals that would be trying to eat the turnips you were trying to grow. It would be simple matter to make a cooking vessel out of the hide, although you'd have to use the whole "put hot rocks in the pot" method to heat everything up.

      Even if you had a pot and didn't need a hide cooking vessel, I think you'd still need to chase down something to make some sort of smoked meat product or beast-bacon to season your beans and greens.

      "Beans and greens" has a certain ring to it, so I'm claiming the rights to it (don't nobody else try to steal it, or else!)

      "Beans, Greens, and Bacon" or "Beans, Bacon, and Greens" could be name of my chain of restaurants serving authentic southern-style shipwrecked cuisine. Blackeyed pea, ham, and turnip greens soup would be on the menu, along with a hardy goat, turnip root, and turnip green stew.

      Franchises are still available for a reasonable price since I'm still in the growing phase, so don't let this opportunity slip by, your future is calling.

  3. I would make sure to advertise that it is made with a smoked lizard in every pot!

    1. I can almost guarantee that iguana bacon is going to be the next big thing, so get in on the ground floor by investing in the self-award winning restaurant chain, "Beans, Greens, and Bacon".

      Send me some money for more information about how to get a franchise of your own.