The Eastham turnip is a gentle beast. Green feathered and violet tinged, it emerges from the earth to announce the fall.
It's autumn! it trumpets, hair flying and roots cast off. Unanchored, it sits in basement cellars and vegetable crispers, harkening the approach of winter.
When all is bare, I'll be here, it promises, blushing cheeks tinged lavender and smooth skin pale.
It's not quite time yet for the frosty spades, but I cannot help pulling a swift, risky turn off Route 6 and screeching to a farm stand stop. There are pounds upon pounds upon pounds of the root vegetable nestled beneath the cover of a dry blue blanket. Green tops peek out, and I reach beneath to pile my catch high on the scale. Four pounds, I discover, and throw $8 in the iron box.
There is no discussion when we arrive in the kitchen. I chop them boldly to pieces, they succumb to the murmur of onion and broth, and the silken soup is quickly done. I sit down with bowl and spoon, and let go to the prospect of falling leaves.
SILKEN TURNIP SOUP
(adapted from First Encounter with a Turnip, a collection of recipes from the Friends of the Eastham Public Library)
In a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot, melt 3 tablespoons butter. Add 2 shallots, thinly sliced, and cook over medium heat until translucent. Add 3 small to mid-sized turnips, peeled and sliced thinly, 3 small new potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly, and salt to taste. Cover, stirring occasionally, and let cook 20 minutes, or until tender. Add 4 cups chicken broth and simmer partially covered for 10 minutes. Add 1/4 cup heavy cream, and puree soup until silky. Serve hot, sprinkled with nutmeg and fresh basil to taste.