Kohlrabi, a vegetable that sounds just as foreign as it is alien to most people, is a subtle-flavored vegetable in the cabbage family. In fact it's German name translates to cabbage (kohl) turnip (rabi). Varieties include purple and pale green. It often gets confused with rutabagas or turnips, but it's actually much more attractive than both. Kohlrabi can be eaten raw (its taste resembles that of radishes) or cooked (where its taste is similar to boiled broccoli stems). This creamy soup is the perfect recipe for kohlrabi, because the vegetable turns sweet and tender.
This recipe is based on my mother's version. Her soup is a Hungarian specialty. It's wonderful for a first course before an elegant dinner. When you match it with a big chunk of bread or crackers, it's even great as an entire meal. Its creaminess and sweetness always hits my comfort spot. And even though, as a kid, I never thought of kohlrabi as much of a vegetable, I still always asked my mom to make this soup in the fall and winter.
Kohlrabi is commonly used in eastern European and Indian cooking. It's one of my favorite vegetables for soup because it's great featured, like in this soup recipe, or in a mixed vegetable soup with many mixed fall and winter vegetables. Find it readily available in the grocery store now, but it's freshest at the farmers' market where you will see it with leaves attached, which are nice sautéed for a side dish or shredded into a slaw.
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 medium kohlrabi bulbs (about 3 pounds), peeled and diced
2 tablespoons flour
pinch of paprika
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
Warm oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add kohlrabi and stir to coat. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water and cook, covered, stirring occasionally and, if necessary, add more water to cook kohlrabi until tender, about 20 minutes. Continue to cook, uncovered, until water has evaporated.
Sprinkle in flour and paprika; stir until incorporated. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.
Stir in heavy cream and sour cream, and season with salt and pepper. Simmer until hot. Stir in finely chopped parsley before serving. Yield: 4 servings.