Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Lovely Purple Kohlrabi

     I had never eaten kohlrabi, but that picture in the seed catalog had me hooked, that funny bulbous stem of a luscious purple color.  Anything that beautiful had to taste good.  So I bought the seeds and they were surprisingly easy to grow, and they grow in the spring when we are anxiously awaiting our tomatoes and green beans and in the fall when the tomatoes and green beans have succumbed to the frost.  They don't like heat and they don't like those pretty little white butterflies or at least the caterpillars.  We had a difficult time in the greenhouse this fall.  Many seedlings were lost or seriously delayed due to the caterpillars.  Everyday when I came into the greenhouse I stared at the little seedlings trying to get them to tell me what was the matter.  Finally, one of the unfortunate caterpillars was large enough for me to see hiding on a vein.  Everyday there after, I was a voracious caterpillar picker and finally our seedlings made a come back and we are now getting some kohlrabi big enough to eat.
    Last year I grew kohlrabi but I didn't know how to eat it.  I tried it raw.  Delicious!  I tried it grated in a slaw.  Not bad!  I also tried it steamed with cheese sauce.  Also, quite good.  And then I visited my friend, Hannah.  Hannah was a math teacher at the high school with me.  She and her family have moved off-island and I don't get to see her very often, but when I do, what fun.  Hannah shares many of my passions, but especially math and gardening.  
     Recently, Hannah and Peter bought their first house in America.  Hannah and Peter were Hungarian; they have recently become American citizens after a very long process.  They told me about the beautiful ceremony that they participated in and it made me proud of this country. 
    Well, Hannah has turned her whole backyard into a vegetable garden.  Unusual in this country, but anyone who has traveled in Europe has seen those marvelous backyard gardens.  One day I was visiting Hannah and she decided to make me kohlrabi soup.  Kohlrabi soup is a staple in Hungary.  Peter remembered eating it at school everyday for lunch, (actually with not very fond memories as might be true with anything you eat everyday.)  I asked Hannah for her recipe.

Here it is. I don't the exact amounts of each ingredient, as I do it by feel.

3 - 4 small kohlrabi
2 carrots
sour cream (vegan)
vegetable broth

Cut up the vegetables and fry them with a Tbs. or so of oil over medium heat. Sprinkle about a Tbs. of flour over them, stir, and fry for another 30 seconds. Add water or broth. Cook until vegetables are tender. Salt to taste. Add sour cream - how much depends on how creamy you want it. Mix in fresh parsley chopped into small pieces.

The soup was delicious when she made it and even Peter thought it was really good.
So I decided to make kohlrabi soup for my husband, Arthur and myself.  Hannah is a vegan.  Arthur is a meat lover, but even more important to him is onion and garlic so I added them to the recipe with a little celery.

Here is my recipe: 
1 T. butter
1 onion chopped fine
1 carrot chopped fine
heart of celery chopped fine
3 kohlrabi stems chopped- leaves removed
Sauté until limp.
Add 1 T. flour.  (I added gluten free garbanzo bean)
Sauté until the flour browns a little.  (I have read that this is important in Hungarian cooking as it also is in Cajun cooking.)
Add about 4 cups water or broth.
Cook until the vegetables are tender.
As the kohlrabi greens are also good to eat.  I removed the stems and cut them in ribbons and added them to the soup.  (I had to add more water when I added the tops.)
I then added parsley.
When I served the soup I put a dollop of sour cream on the top.

As this recipe may not be very Hungarian anymore, I have decided to call it American-Hungarian Friendship Soup in Hannah and Peter's honor and in honor of all they have accomplished in this country they love so dearly.  Thank you, Hannah, for being my friend.  Thank you, COMSOG, for letting me grow this beautiful and versatile vegetable.


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