Macomber Turnips are prized for their creamy texture and subtlety balanced sweet-tart flavor. Intuitively, I know they appear on restaurant menus all over New England in the fall. Just for kicks, I Googled, “Macomber Turnip Soup Menu” to see approximately how many restaurants in Boston feature them. Eight out of the ten results on the first page led to a different local restaurant’s menu.
(photo credit: Wendy Maeda, The Boston Globe)
They look like the purple top turnips in shape, size and color gradations. But instead of white with purple shoulders, they are flesh toned with more muted purple shoulders.
According to Cukie Macomber, as written in the New Bedford Standard Times, "It (ed:the macomber turnip)began when two brothers, Adin and Elihu, sixth-generation farmers from the Westport portion of old Dartmouth, began experimenting with seeds. They returned from a fair in Philadelphia in 1876 with seeds for experimentation, planting radishes next to rutabagas (17th century crossbreed of a cabbage and a turnip) to allow cross pollination. The Westport Macomber Turnip was born. Their new turnip inherited the white flesh of the radish parent and turnip grandparent, but an unusual sweetness and horseradish aroma, raw and cooked."
Every year, I see them at Russo’s and think I will buy a few and experiment. Nothing happened until this year. And how glad I am to have discovered them.
As a simple side dish, I roasted them with apples, ginger and garlic.
This dish transformed easily into a soup. With the addition of a little wine and chicken stock I pureed them. I added a little cream to give the soup a little richness. I started to add lemon juice as its part of my usual seasoning routine. But when I tasted the soup it was wonderfully bright without any more seasoning.
This soup can be easily dolled up with a little lobster and/or truffles on top.
Roasted Turnip Base
1 tbs. butter
1 macomber turnip
1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
1 tsp. minced fresh garlic
1 gala apple
1. Preheat the oven to 375.
2. Peel turnip and cut into ¾ inch cubes.
3. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic, and cook for 2 minutes, just to soften.
4. Toss the butter with the turnips. Season with salt and pepper. Spread them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven.
5. Roast t the turnips for 20 minutes.
6. While they’re roasting, core the apple and cut it into a ½ inch dice. Do not peel it.
7. After 20 minutes, add the apple to the turnips. Toss them together to make sure the apples get a little butter coating. Roast for 5 minutes more.
8. Serve as a side dish to braised short ribs or salmon.
Macomber Turnip Soup with Lobster
1 quart chicken stock/broth
¼ cup heavy cream
1 small leek, white and light green parts, cut and washed.
½ pound lobster meat
1 tsp. fresh tarragon
1 scallion, cut into rings
1 tbs. butter
1. In a large soup pot, combine turnip base, chicken stock and leek. Simmer for 20 minutes. Puree in a blender (in two parts if necessary) until smooth. Add cream. Return to pot, and set aside in a warm place.
2. In a medium skillet, melt the butter. Add the lobster and warm it through. Just before serving add tarragon, scallions and a squeeze of lemon.
3. Ladle soup into bowls. Top with lobsters and extra scallion rounds.