Where the Bike Trail Ends (and an Epilogue of Turnip Soup)

On the weekend before Thanksgiving, just before the temperatures dropped to freezing and the rainstorms hit,I braved the first winds of winter to follow my favorite trail farther than before. It was clear from the first that, despite the deceptively bright sun, winter was well on its way.

The stream runs cold under bare boughs, and I follow it down through the woods towards the old mill

The stream runs cold under bare boughs, and I follow it down through the woods towards the old mill

Ragged yet radiant refugees of autumn

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This time, when I arrive at Cadell’s Mill, I decide to cross over Surrey Road and see where the path leads on the other side. I’ve been leery of crossing on my bike, but the park map shows the trail continuing. My curiosity leads me on.

On the other side of the road, what was a paved path becomes a dirt track ridged with roots and strewn with stones. Remembering the map’s advice, I take the left fork. My trusty steed is no mountain bike, but she gets me as far as Walney Pond, which the map had told me was only a short distance away. There are no cattails or water lilies in this season, but the reflections of the bare-limbed trees on the water have a strange, stark grace.

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There are benches, and I’m sure this place will be lovely, come spring, but it’s no place to sit and pull out a book today. The only reason I’m not freezing is because I’m not standing still very long. I get back on the bike and go back to the fork to see where the other trail leads. I come to a bridge…

A tantalizing bridge leads to an unknown forest

A tantalizing bridge leads to an unknown forest

…and I am thwarted.

The end of the trail for my trusty steed

The end of the trail for my trusty steed

Definitely for feet only

Definitely for feet only

A lovely place for a picnic, just not in November

A lovely place for a picnic, just not in November

My trusty steed can go no further on this road

My trusty steed can go no further on this road

It’s been a long, cold ride. Once my bike is safely back in her cozy garage, it’s time to think about how I’m going to warm myself up. What’s in the fridge? Hmmm… turnips. I know just what to do with those.

When peeling turnips, make sure to cut off the darker ring beneath the skin, leaving only the white inner flesh to cook with

When peeling turnips, make sure to cut off the darker ring beneath the skin, leaving only the white inner flesh to cook with

Peel and cut turnips and potatoes into rough chunks (I used one potato per turnip as a ratio).

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Chop one onion and put it in a soup pot with about 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Simmer onion until transparent.

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Then add the turnips and, a few minutes later, add the potato as well as some rosemary. I used about 3 tablespoons worth of fresh rosemary from my herb garden.

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I added four cups of water. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a fan of pre-prepared stocks. If you salt and season generously, water is all you need, and this way you never end up covering up the delicate flavors of your own ingredients with the stronger taste of a soup stock.

Bring to a boil and then simmer both the turnips and the potatoes are tender. Once this is done, let the soup cool a little, and then put it in the blender and puree (you’ll probably have to do it in two parts).

Once the soup is pureed and back in the pot, add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, as well as a generous shake (or four) of ground nutmeg.

Let it sit covered on the stove for a few hours to maximize flavor, then reheat before serving.

Below you can see it on the table, garnished with a sprig of fresh rosemary and served with my new favorite spinach salad on the side (recipe coming soon).

Turnip and potato soup

Turnip and potato soup – less humble and much more delicious than one might expect

I really felt like I was bringing out my Slavic peasant roots while preparing this. It seemed like something the infamous Russian witch Baba Yaga might have served to unwary visitors in her hut in the woods. I must say, considering the humble nature of the raw ingredients, the end result was, indeed, magically good.

I can’t take the credit for this one, though. I adapted it from a recipe on the lovely website Tales of a Kitchen. Here’s a link to the original recipe.

Well, this post was scheduled to go up this weekend but I didn’t expect the weather to change so drastically when I was preparing it last week! It’s going up now, even though the first snow is falling. Those last traces of autumn may be gone now, but the turnip soup is as apropos as ever.

See you again soon! Thanks for stopping by. Stay warm and don’t scorn the turnip.

– Jennifer

2 thoughts on “Where the Bike Trail Ends (and an Epilogue of Turnip Soup)

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