Cream of Kohlrabi Soup (A Semi-Beetonised Dish)

I have to state upfront, this recipe is not strictly from Household Management.  I first came across the vegetable ‘kohlrabi in Household Management, and at around the same time I noticed it coming into season (with the same name) in my local market here in Germany, where I’m currently living.  Mrs Beeton’s description of the vegetable (see link below) had me intrigued (I’d never heard of it before), and I wanted to know more.  Recently, I ordered ‘Cream of Kohlrabi Soup’ from the canteen of the company I’m working with.  It tasted pretty good – very mild and creamy.  Even my boyfriend would have liked it, had he been brave enough to try!

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Mrs Beeton tells us “Although not generally grown as a garden vegetable, if used when young and tender, it [kohlrabi] is wholesome, nutritious, and very palatable.”.    Not to be overly critical or anything, but Household Management doesn’t exactly specify what you can do with this wholesome, nutritious and very palatable vegetable. The description of kohlrabi is plonked somewhat ignominiously under an entry for boiling broccoli (or ‘brocoli’, as she calls it).

So, I decided to combine Mrs Beeton’s preparation steps for broccoli /description of kohlrabi with a Cream of Kohlrabi Soup recipe I just created myself, based on the taste of the canteen version (with some improvements of my own, of course!)…

INGREDIENTS:  3 kohlrabi (chopped into small cubes), 1/2 small onion (or 1/3 of large) (chopped), 1/2 tablespoon of butter, 1 teaspoon of oil, 2 tablespoons of flour, 2 1/2 cups (625 ml) of vegetable stock, 2/3 cup of milk, pinch pepper, good pinch of salt, a small grating of nutmeg


In a frying pan, fry the onion in the oil and butter until soft.  Add the kohlrabi and fry until slightly soft and light brown (6-8 minutes).  Then add the flour, stir everything together until flour is fully combined, and add the vegetable stock.  Simmer for approximately 20 minutes until the kohlrabi is tender (the liquid should be smelling pretty tempting by this stage!).  Put the mix in a processor with the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.  Return to the stove and reheat for 1-2 minutes.  Serve (with a dollop of sour cream, if desired).

I read on a website (http://www.greenearthinstitute.org/kohlrabi.htm) that medium / large kohlrabi needs to be peeled before use.  I haven’t a clue about the difference in looks between a small and large kohlrabi (the kohlrabi at the market all seemed the same size), so I peeled them anyway and cut them into small cubes.  When I first smelled it, I thought, ‘Hmmm, this isn’t exactly interesting!’, but when it started to fry with the onion, it took on a much more tempting scent.

This impression continued to be confirmed as the vegetable mix simmered in the stock.  The whole kitchen began to smell very inviting!

The final product is incredibly delicious (and I’m not just saying that because it’s my own recipe!).  When cooked, kohlrabi really does taste densely creamy – the taste doesn’t overwhelm your palate.  Even though it was only 10am, I raced for a spoon and ate a bowl immediately.  I’m not sure if any will be left when my boyfriend finally gets out of bed!

I’m not sure how common or affordable kohlrabi was in Mrs Beeton’s time, but I’m surprised she didn’t include at least a simple soup recipe for it.  I can’t imagine such a mild, creamy tasting vegetable (at least when cooked) being disliked by anyone! (although my fussy boyfriend has yet to try it…)

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By the way, is kohlrabi both plural and singular in English and German?

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Kohlrabi – Introduction by Mrs Beeton (Recipe 1095): http://www.mrsbeeton.com/25-chapter25.html#1095

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