Smoky Broccoli and Rutabaga Soup

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Some words are just fun to say.  Rutabaga is one of my favorites, as is Rubber Biscuit. They roll off the tongue, and have  a natural humorous end note. A cross between cabbage and a turnip rutabagas have a distinctive yellow flesh and muddled purple top.  This root vegetable sits by itself, usually a bit forlorn on the top produce shelf mingled with its turnip cousin in a wee basket. I don’t think most Californians know what to do with them, but enjoy them I do. Occasionally adding them to a stew, a mash or a soup. Their distinctive flavor, slightly perfumed, a bit sweet, a bit sharp provides another taste to layer and add richness. Root vegetables and winter’s fare, just goes together.

Rutabaga, swede, turnip, neep or turnshie – what do you do with this root vegetable?

In northern Europe, this was a famine buster crop. Able to grow in poor soils saving many a family when devastation hit the continent. Just looking at the etymology of the many regional names offers insights to its place in local home foods. While in North America we call it a rutabaga, the name is actually derived from Swedish “Rotabagge” or root bag where it was noted growing wild. Records say it was introduced to Britian and France around the late 17th early 18th centuries. Commonwealth Nations often call it a “swede.” Just a turnip, neep or turnshie if your feet or hearts are in Ireland, Scotland or Wales. In Ireland and Scotland carved rutabagas with scary faces were the precursor to American Halloween jack-o-lanterns (pumpkins) in chasing away evil spirits.

Smoky Broccoli and Rutabaga Soup Pin It

 So the notion of combining broccoli and rutabaga for some would cause lapses of contorted faces and pursed lips while uttering vehement protests.  Duly noted. While wildly good for you neither has a reputation as an absolute favorite — really quite the opposite. As a proud contrarian, I purchase broccoli in 3-lb bags. The result forces me to become a bit creative in using it up and still pleasing my regular dinner crowd.  This soup came to me after a days of dining out, vacationing away from my kitchen and no energy to go grocery shopping. You know, the last possible moment and “you gotta make something from what you have on hand” kind of meal.

Smokey? Yes! Coming from adding just a pinch of my newly acquired Smoked Apple wood Sea Salt (from Whole Spice) and finishing with a bit of smoked mozzarella. Super creamy due to the rutabaga and potato flesh, softening and blending buttery texture without added cream. Sweet? Surprisingly due to the addition of a Fuji apple to echo the apple wood flavors in the sea salt. And to please the boys, why not garnished with crispy bacon bits. This soup in total is much lighter than you might expect, perhaps perfect for the spring days ahead.

Smoky Broccoli and Rutabaga Soup
Serves 6
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
1 clove garlic minced
1 large russet potato, peeled and cubed
1 large rutabaga, peeled and cubed
1 Fuji Apple, peeled and cubed
2 cups low salt chicken stock or vegetable broth
4 cups water
3 cups fresh broccoli, chopped
½ teaspoon ground yellow mustard
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon Herbs d’ Provence
1 teaspoon fine ground black pepper
½ teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon smoked apple wood sea salt (or other smoked salt)
½ cup shredded smoked mozzarella
Additional sea salt or kosher salt to taste

Wash, peel and chop vegetables, be sure to keep sizing consistent so they all cook evenly.
Fry up bacon pieces until crispy, drain on paper towels and reserve for garnish.


  1. Heat olive oil in large soup pot over medium high.
  2. Cook onions and garlic until just soft.
  3. Add potato, rutabaga, apple cubes and continue cooking and stirring to combine. Cook for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add chopped broccoli pieces, chicken stock, water. Bring to a boil then lower heat to a simmer.
  5. Add ground mustard, turmeric, herbs d’ province, black and white peppers.
  6. Cover and cook until all vegetables are soft – about 15-20 minutes
  7. Use immersion blender and puree completely (or puree in batches in a blender and return to pot.)
  8. Add apple wood smoked salt and shredded smoked mozzarella. Stir until cheese is melted.
  9. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.
  10. Remove from heat and serve garnished with bacon pieces.

 Cooks Tips
 What’s a Rubber Biscuit you ask?  Check out the Blues Brothers classic while you whip up dinner.

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9 Responses to Smoky Broccoli and Rutabaga Soup

  1. Ambika says:

    The soup sounds wonderful!! Love the green color, perfect for March!

    • Thank you Ambika for your kind comment. I really like your vegetarian blog and this recipe could be easily adapted to go totally veg! Vegetable broth, no cheese, and of course no bacon sprinkles Cheers ;D

  2. Ilva says:

    Rutabaga is one of may favourites and I really miss it down here where I never even seen it, at least not here around Pistoia. I think my favourite recipe with it is the simplest of them all – rutabaga puree or mash. Must bring some with me when I go to Sweden in June. This sounds like a very interesting recipe, Robin!

    • Talk about importing exotic food to Italy Ilva! Who knew that rutabagas would be on that list gourmet groceries LOL… Let me know if the soup makes it to your table my friend.

  3. This sounds sooo delicious.

    You are welcome to join in my food blogger event THE SOUP KITCHEN, here all bloggers are welcome, hope to see you participate soon.

  4. Bentobird says:

    A witty and educational post–learned so much about the oft overlooked rutabaga! And of couse, you created a delightful dish, creaively seasoned. Thanks for a smile making psot, perfect for these half-chilly/half springlike days, Robin 🙂

    • Dear Jenn, it is a funny kind of vegetable isn’t it! We in for rain all week (which is good) and then colder temperatures. I feel more soups or stews in my future… Happy Week to you! ♥

  5. Lyndsey says:

    Funny…when I think of saying rutabaga it just seems to come with a Swedish accent! 🙂 This smokey delight would be good right now for my lunch. I would use them more often if they came already peeled and cut ready to use. 😀

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