inspiration, perfection and turnip soup January 14, 2013

“Inspiration is for amateurs – the rest of us just show up and get to work. ” – Chuck Close

One of the highlights of my weekends is the arrival of the Brain Pickings email on Sunday mornings. I get up, grab some coffee, and settle in to read. It’s a weekly compilation of writings about creativity, arts and “interestingness”. Every week, there’s something I read that makes me pause and feel inspired. You should give it a go if you’re not subscribed already.

A few weeks ago, this piece about artist Chuck Close snagged my attention and I shared it with friends online…and it really caused a kerfuffle for some. The notion that the hunt for perfection – needing the ideal moment, the absolute perfect temperature to work in, a different chair to sit in or table to shoot on – is all just distraction. An effort to not work rather than create the perfect moment to do your best. He goes on to talk about his daily routine…how he puts himself in the moment to paint every day…and the inspiration comes and goes and you work through it. This rang so true to me because I’m so guilty of procrastination…of saying something can’t be done because it’s the third Tuesday of the month and the stars aren’t aligned in some such way so why even bother trying. Or some such thing.

So many things that I cook and photograph never make it to this blog because of self-scrutiny and the peer pressure I seem to impose on myself. “It’s not perfect so why would anyone want to look at it”. It’s ridiculous. This isn’t about perfection – it’s about sharing something that is tasty and meaningful. I’m working on being easier on myself here and just letting myself have fun – I like cooking and talking with you folks.

What does this have to do with soup? Nothing.

I bought some turnips at the market because, honestly, I couldn’t remember ever cooking with anything but the greens. I’ve never met a root vegetable I didn’t like so I figured what the heck. When in doubt, I make soup with it. The slight spiciness of the turnips was really wonderful all pureed together. Instead of using heavy cream or half & half like I might usually do in a “creamy” soup, this one has a bit of Greek yogurt stirred in at the end. If you wanted to keep this completely vegan, you can omit it and not alter the recipe too much. You could also tuck this recipe away for the summer months and serve it cold – a turnip Vichyssoise kinda thing.

 Creamy Turnip Soup – serves 4 to 6 as a soup course or light entree

  • 7-8 medium sized (2-3″ in diameter) turnips – peeled and cut in 1″ cubes
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 cups vegetable stock – enough to just cover the turnips
  • a dash of freshly grated nutmeg
  • a dash of cayenne pepper
  • kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt – I used Chobani non-fat plain but use whichever kind you prefer
  • fresh chives (optional) – for garnish

– In a large soup or stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat until it just starts to shimmer. Add the peeled & cubed turnips and stir to coat with the oil. Allow to cook for 6-7 minutes until tender but not brown. Pour in the vegetable stock until the liquid just covers the turnips by about 1/2″. Simmer the turnips until they are fork-tender – this was about 20 minutes for me. Add in the fresh nutmeg and the dash of cayenne pepper and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup in the pot. If you don’t have an immersion blender, cool down the soup and puree in a high-powered blender. Allow to cool to room temperature and stir in the Greek yogurt. To serve, bring the soup back to a simmer. Garnish each serving with some freshly snipped chives, if you’d like.

Some other turnip recipes I’ve been pinning and putting away:


Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar Jan 14, 2013 10:01 am

haha when I was little my Grandpa used to joke that if I was bad he’d make me eat turnip soup. I didn’t know what a turnip was at the time, but if only I knew how good it could be, I’d be bad all the time!!

robyn Jan 14, 2013 10:01 am

I love turnips…but generally only eat it with haggis!

David Jan 14, 2013 11:01 am

Where did you get the bowls?

tami Jan 14, 2013 03:01 pm

david – the bowls are from west elm

DessertForTwo Jan 14, 2013 01:01 pm

Thanks for the intro to Brain Pickings. I’m so intrigued.

It saddens me that you cook and photograph stuff and don’t share with us, because I happen to think everything you do is great! I feel deprived–share! :)

Eileen Jan 14, 2013 06:01 pm

Hooray for turnips! So underrated and so good. Pureed veg soups like this are one of my favorite things ever. Well, to be honest, most soups are my favorite things ever. :)

Denise Jan 14, 2013 08:01 pm

Oh perfection, you evil evil thing. I hate that feeling that takes over and stumps me … I am working on just dealing with my environment and what is given to me, this year. I am going to turn roses into perfume!! Or lemons into lemonade!

I have never thought to make a creamy turnip soup. I use them in mashes, gratins as well as veggie rich soup but never as a creamy soup. Now I am intrigued. I like that for the most part your recipe is dairy free. Going to buy some turnips this week!!

Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough Jan 15, 2013 08:01 am

I completely empathize with the “stars needing to be aligned” thing. It’s tough to share your work when it just doesn’t feel good enough. That said… this soup looks stunning and delicious and if anything you make looks even remotely like this, I’m sure we’d all love it if you shared it, imperfections and all!

leaf (the indolent cook) Jan 15, 2013 09:01 am

Love how pristine your turnip soup looks. I’ve gradually become a bit more relaxed about what goes on my blog… if there is still something worth saying or showing, a little less than what is ideal for me, is okay.

Christy Jan 15, 2013 03:01 pm

I do the same thing on Sundays, LOVE Brain Pickings and that recent article! And you KNOW of course I’m going to make this soup soon, and see you soon! ;)

Stefanie @ Sarcastic Cooking Jan 15, 2013 05:01 pm

I signed up to receive Brain Pickings, I thank you for the intro! I love turnips in soup. I love to add some fresh grated horseradish to whatever I make with them. I love that spice the two give to a dish.

Marita Madeloni Jan 16, 2013 01:01 pm

I love your words about the issue of procrastination. I suffer from this on the daily. Sometimes if I just push through, the results are quite satisfying. It’s always great to hear that other folks are going through this too! Thanks for sharing..

Peep Jan 17, 2013 09:01 am

Turnips are so under used, I’m trying this recipe when we get home.

I really crave haggis, neeps and tatties now!

..friday favorites.. Jan 18, 2013 07:01 pm

[…] Inspiration and Turnip soup by Tami of Running with Tweezers, can’t wait to make this! […]

whisk it Jan 22, 2013 03:01 am

It’s a pity it’s still a smouldering summer here in South Africa, cause I am dying to try this soup! Its also a massive pity I don’t have access to those bowls either, west elm doesn’t deliver to Africa :)

Waiting eagerly for your next post

Ilke Jan 26, 2013 07:01 am

I will read the article and take a look at the Brain Pickings, I need something to immerse myself on the weekends early in the mornings too, instead of catching up with work.
We really need to take things a bit less serious and lighter.
I love turnips…but not the greens. I usually roast them with bunch of others and eat it that way. The soup is a good way to try it. Need to keep at the back of my head.
Have a wonderful weekend :)

Holly Swafford Jan 27, 2013 05:01 pm

You were such an inspiration to watch with Helene at FBS 2013 this weekend. I know I sound like I’m gushing (and I am,) but the idea of food styling was almost like a hallelujah, angels blowing their trumpets in the clouds, glorious epiphany moment for me. I’ve always loved fashion, spent every paycheck working for Anthropologie (I mean who wouldn’t), and recently got into food blogging while running a small French macaron business on the side. Food styling just really hit me like a brick wall in your class (in a good way) and I didn’t get a chance to talk to you afterwards, knowing that both you and Helene were swarmed with questions and comments. Just wanted to add in my two bits with the rest, and say thank you for the inspiration and your transparency in the class.
I would like to ask, what are some good resources for me to check out to learn more about food styling/get my foot in the door? I have Helene’s book (and love it,) and right now I’m continuing to practice my own photography and styling with my blog, “baguette and biscuit.” Any words of advice would be much appreciated.
Thanks again, Holly

kale Jan 30, 2013 02:01 pm

so i guess inspiration is still desired but not something to wait around for. it will come so long as we are in motion.

[…] Tami of Running with Tweezers made a turnip soup […]

The Teacher Cooks Feb 12, 2013 11:02 am

Thanks for the link to Brain Pickings. I have enjoyed reading it. And as someone else said you should post all of your wonderful creations! Aug 30, 2013 10:08 am

I like soups very much, and this sounds like a different and delicious recipe. I will definitely try it. It is a good way to consume turnips which are really good for health.

[…] when you can have a beet. Whatever the poor turnip’s stigma once was, it has been lifted and this creamy turnip soup looks like a bowl of […]

Kate Dec 2, 2013 12:12 pm

We made this for Thanksgiving and LOVED it. On the day, we had it with some yogurt swirled on the top. As leftovers, just with a bit of added salt. Great soup!!! Thanks.

[…] Creamy Turnip Soup […]

[…] soup that’s full of onions, leeks, and cream. As I search through Mother Earth, Food 52 and Running with Tweezers’ various renditions, I settle on something that fits what I have on my kitchen table. I take the […]

[…] soup that’s full of onions, leeks, and cream. As I search through Mother Earth, Food 52 and Running with Tweezers’ various renditions, I settle on something that fits what I have on my kitchen table. I take the […]