If someone would ask me to name my favourite vegetable I really couldn’t choose just one. But what I could say is this: I’m a lover of the Brassica family. I know this may sound weird, but I LOVE cauliflower, broccoli, savoy cabbage, kale, brussel sprouts and not least of all: kohlrabi. Kohlrabi is one of the most common veggies here in Germany, but seems to be relatively unknown in the anglo-saxon world. Whether you are bored of the old bulb or a kohlrabi newbie: reconsider and get some at the market. They are super healthy – especially the edible leaves that taste great lightly sautéd with nothing but a little salt and butter – and versatile. Raw, kohlrabi is the perfect complement for grated salads – it’s fresh and crisp, similar to water chestnuts. But I also love it sautéd with butter and salt. The taste becomes ‘warmer’ and a little sweeter. It’s a great addition to abundance bowls or works well as a taco filling. You could also try my spelt tagiatelle with caramelized kohlrabi and rhubarb.
In the past very hot days all I was longing for was something cooling and refreshing, something that would make me feel satisfied without feeling full. So if you fancy a change from smoothies or salads, chilled summer soups are the perfect option. Traditional kohlrabi soups often call for heavy cream or flour as a thickener, but such a richness was the last thing I wanted. If you haven’t added avocado to a soup before: It’s the perfect vegan and paleo way to thicken soups – there’s no need for starch or potatoes! Simply add it after you’ve blended the other ingredients so that they have cooled down a little – there you go.
One more thing about the cress, I used for that recipe: You can of course use store bought cress, but maybe you want to start growing your own sprouts. A couple of years ago, I started sprouting seeds, legumes and grains in a jar, which is super easy and a great way to optimize nutrition. However sprouting jars don’t work for tiny seeds like broccoli and radish, especially if they are gel-forming like cress and chia seeds. Of course you can easily sprout cress on slightly moist cotton, but I decided to get myself a sprouting tray (like this one. If you are in Germany: I got mine here). All you have to do is to sprinkle the seeds with some water twice a day and after a few days you’ve got a tray full of leafy sprouts packed with blood-cleansing chlorophyll. You can use any leafy sprouts you like for this recipe, but I really recommend pungent sprouts such as cress, mustard, arugula or radish, because they add some bang to the rather mild soup.
Chilled kohlrabi soup with cashew cream & cress oil
1 kg kohlrabi (3 big bulbs)
2 litre homemade vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tbsp coconut oil
For the cashew cream:
thumb-sized piece of horseradish
juice of 1/2 lemon
pinch of nutmeg
sea salt and black pepper to taste
For the cress oil:
a generous hand full of cress (or radish sprouts)
5 tbsp good quality olive oil
a pinch of salt
Cover the cashews with water and soak them overnight or at least 2 hours beforehand.
Peel and dice the kohlrabi (don’t throw out the leaves! You can use them in the soup, although this will darken the result or sauté them like collard greens or kale and eat them with some eggs). Dice the shallots. Place a large pot on medium heat, add the coconut oil and sauté the shallots until they become translucent. Add the kohlrabi and the spices and stir fry for about 2 minutes. Then add the broth, bring to a boil and let it simmer for not more than 5 minutes. When you overcook brassicas, you’ll get that sulfuric, ‘cabbagy’ smell which is the reason many people don’t like these great veggies. Meanwhile chop the avocado. Remove the soup from the heat and blend it until smooth. Let it cool down a little, than add the copped avocado and blend again until you’ve got a creamy texture. Place the cooled down soup in the fridge for at least two hours.
To make the cashew cream, peel and grate the horseradish. Discard the soaking water and blend all ingredients with a blender or food processor. I wanted the cream to be rather thick, you might want to add a little more water until you’ve reached your favoured consistency.
For the cress oil, place the sprouts, 3 tbsp olive oil and salt in a food processor or an hand-held blender and pulse a few times, but try to keep some of the leaves intact, then add the remaining oil.
Ladle the chilled soup into bowls, stir in the cashew cream, drizzle with the cress oil and sprinkle with some more sprouts.
* You can also serve the soup warm – it tastes just as good!