Kohlrabi, Potato & Apple Soup

As should be evident from my sporadic posts, it’s been a hectic autumn. I’ve done my best to keep up with the onslaught of fresh CSA veggies by making simple and serviceable dinners for one. I also hauled a ridiculous quantity of carrots, turnips, lettuce and fresh herbs down to Baltimore for Thanksgiving. I slunk home guiltily on Sunday, afraid to face the cabbage, kohlrabi and apples that I had left behind.

The cabbage made for a fine lunch once I cut off the moldy bits and cooked it up with carrots and a little bacon. The key is a nice sharp Dijon mustard. I had a work event Monday night. By the time I got home around 10:00, it was all I could do to dice an apple and sprinkle some granola atop my bowl of yogurt. I’m sure I ate dinner on Tuesday night but, between a big fundraising push and the scramble to write my paper for Wednesday’s class, I’ll be damned if I can recall what I made. I’d be willing to bet it involved peanut butter.

By Wednesday, what I had been telling myself was allergies had settled into an undeniable cold. Mercifully, I scored a seat for the long subway ride from Harlem back to my corner of Brooklyn. I’m still not sure whether the train skipped my stop or I failed to notice it through my feverish haze, but the extra long walk through a cold and misty rain didn’t help the situation.

I arrived home exhausted and in need of comfort. Scanning the pantry, my eyes alit on the dregs of a box of Streit’s Matzo Meal left over from my Passover foray into Miso-Spinach Matzo Balls. This time I stuck to the directions on the box, which yielded lovely, classic matzo balls in just under an hour, most of which I spent selecting the perfect soundtrack for my melancholy.


A normal person would have served these in a chicken broth, but I had some Hawthorne Valley beet kvass that was approaching its expiration date, so I went with a sort of borscht-matzo ball hybrid. It was deeply satisfying, if slightly off-putting in color.

Unsurprisingly, I didn’t feel much better today, so opted to work from home. Breakfast brought more yogurt with apple and granola. For lunch I simmered a few of the leftover matzo balls with a couple of cubes of frozen chicken stock. At the last minute, I added some sad spinach buried in the back of the crisper. (Forgive me, Farmed Ted.)

Now about that kohlrabi…

Kohlrabi, Potato & Apple Soup

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 large kohlrabi bulbs, peeled and chopped
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 3 small apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried savory
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • salt and pepper
  1. Bring olive oil up to medium heat in a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottom pot. Sauté the onion until soft, approximately five minutes. Add the kohlrabi and sauté for another five minutes.
  2. Add the potatoes apples, herbs, spices and a healthy pinch of salt. Top with just enough water to cover, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the kohlrabi is tender, which should take somewhere around 45 minutes, adding more water if needed.
  3. Puree using an immersion blender or in batches in the food processor, thinning with water if needed. Run through a chinois (or a food mill if you’re lucky enough to have one), discarding any fibrous remains. Taste and adjust seasoning with additional salt, pepper or nutmeg.

I had originally thought I might augment the puree with a generous pour of the half and half left by a house guest. But the resulting soup was so smooth and creamy and satisfying all by its vegan self that I opted instead for a sprinkle of pan-toasted croutons and a little diced apple.

Kohlrabi Potato Apple Soup

Beet, Apple and Arugula Salad

I just got back from an indulgent long weekend in Baltimore. Vacation eating included fried catfish and collards, crab cakes, oysters, half a bacon cheeseburger, dim sum, and shrimp and grits–washed down with a Bloody Mary, several bottles of Natty Boh and a whole lot of red wine. I had just one day to recover before today’s lunchtime tasting at The Four Seasons Restaurant for an upcoming gala. Somehow I managed to power through the afternoon despite having sampled five wines, six appetizers, six entrees and six desserts.

I worked late and still wasn’t all that hungry by the time I got home, which is good because there wasn’t much left in the cupboard. I had some arugula that had miraculously survived the two weeks since the roast chicken dinner I made for my sister. And I had plenty of apples and root vegetables from my winter CSA share.

Beet Apple Arugula Salad

Beet, Apple and Arugula Salad

  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon good quality olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon creamy Dijon mustard
  • 1 pinch salt
  • black pepper
  • 5 small beets (The Chioggias pictured above were lovely, but regular beets will taste just as good.)
  • 2 small, firm apples
  • 4 cups arugula

Combine first seven ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously. Arrange arugula in a wooden bowl. Peel and rinse beets. Using your peeler (or a mandoline if you’re fancy like that), shave the beets into the salad bowl. Quarter your apples, slice out the core, and use the peeler to shave thin slices into the bowl. Give the dressing one last shake, drizzle it over you salad, and toss to combine.

I suspect that this salad would be great with orange or grapefruit pieces that had been supremed, but the desiccated clementines on my dining table didn’t make the cut. Goat cheese or burrata would give it some heft. Whatever variation you choose, this salad would be a lovely way to start a romantic dinner for two. It also makes a fine meal for someone recovering from serious gluttony.

Autumnal Salad

The aforementioned Progressive Party left me feeling a little worse for the wear. It was Sunday and I had a mountain of reading for the next night’s class. I needed something quick and healthy that did not require venturing outdoors.

Autumnal Salad

  • 1 Kabocha (or other sweet winter) squash
  • 1 tablespoon regular olive oil
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400. Peel and seed the squash (reserving seeds) and chop into 1/2-inch cubes. Toss squash cubes with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Pour into roasting pan and pop into oven. Toss rinsed seeds in same bowl along with cayenne and cinnamon. Pour into a small pan, cover loosely with foil, and pop in oven. Roast stirring occasionally until squash is cooked through and browning at the edges. Squash seeds should be toasted and/or have started to pop (hence the aluminum foil).

  • 2 tablespoons plain greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons honey vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons good quality olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 head red leaf lettuce
  • 2 small apples, chopped

Whisk the first four ingredients together, adding a little more vinegar or some honey as you see fit. Toss the lettuce with the squash, squash seeds, apples and dressing. If you want to be fancy about it, you can reserve some of the seeds to throw on top. 

Autumnal Salad

I made a similar version of this with baby winter greens and butternut squash for a dinner party a couple of weeks later. This time, I included half of a thinly-sliced red onion, which I left to marinate in the dressing until just before serving. It was a big hit.

A Salad for Sailing

I spent the day on a 75-year-old wooden sailboat owned by dear friends that’s docked in Oyster Bay. My sister Eliana, who’s staying with me for a couple of weeks, is vegan, so I got up early to pull together a protein-packed salad that doesn’t require refrigeration.

A couple of months ago I stumbled across a new technique for preparing tofu. When you freeze tofu, it takes on a radically different texture. Ideally, you would press it to release as much liquid as possible and then wrap it in cheesecloth before freezing it, but I’ve gotten decent results by just tossing a drained block into the freezer in a plastic container. When you take it out, the tofu will have yellowed and developed air pockets where the water has been sucked out. If you then simmer it in liquid, the tofu holds together much better and also takes on the flavor of the liquid.

Kale and Quinoa Salad with Candied Five-Spice Tofu

  • 1/2 container firm tofu – frozen, defrosted and cubed
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 kohlrabi bulb, peeled and cubed
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce (can be omitted for vegans)
  • 1/2 tbsp Chinese five-spice powder (or some combination of cinnamon, star anise, anise seed, ginger, cloves and/or fennel)
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp Mirin
  • 1 tbsp sugar (honey or agave would work here too, though honey’s not technically vegan)
  • black pepper

Bring above ingredients minus the kohlrabi to a boil, lower heat and let simmer for 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Add the kohlrabi about halfway through. If you need more liquid, add some water. When onions have wilted and tofu is a nice brown color, remove the solids and boil the liquid until it takes on a syrupy consistency.

  • 1/2 cup quinoa, prepared according to package
  • 1 head kale, thinly sliced
  • 2 apples, cubed
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced (white and light green portions only)
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup shelled sunflower seeds

Combine above ingredients with all of your cooked items, stirring gently to combine. Give it a taste and adjust the seasoning with soy sauce, black pepper, sesame oil and/or rice wine vinegar.

It was a glorious day on Oyster Bay–sunny and 85 degrees. Some ospreys had had their way with the boat, so we started our voyage by scrubbing fish guts and other icky stuff stuff off of the deck. Somehow, this did not diminish our appetites. We ate lunch on the mooring.

The wind picked up in the afternoon and we spent a few glorious hours touring Oyster Bay, catching up on our lives and reminiscing about the books we read in high school. (Eliana’s summer reading is The Great Gatsby, which just happens to be set near where we were sailing.) Shooting the breeze, indeed.