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Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Cooking the Fibrous Stems of Kale and Turnip Greens

As my garden is not as sunny or as warm as it could be for growing a really bountiful harvest, I have to look to using all parts of the vegetables that I can grow.

When I harvest turnips for dinner, I cook the root and greens. I pull the leaves off of the tough and fibrous stems and use them as cooked greens. But I don't discard those stems. I cut them into 1-inch lengths and simmer in a saucepan full of water for an hour. It's important to cut the fibrous stems into short, 1-inch lengths so the "stings" don't tangle on the blade of the blender. Ask me how I know. . .

After cooking, I use my immersion blender to puree the liquid and stems, then strain it all through a mesh sieve. At this point, I compost what doesn't pass through the sieve. What remains is a stock with a mild turnip flavor -- great as a basis for an all vegetable soup.

To make a pot of soup using the turnip stock, I add 1 large diced carrot, some onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. I then allow it all to simmer until the carrot is soft. I add instant mashed potatoes to thicken the soup and to moderate any turnip-iness and adjust the flavor by adding more salt, garlic, powder, and or onion powder. 

I like this soup topped with cheddar cheese. One of my daughters likes to swirl in a pat of butter. It's also tasty topped with plain yogurt or sour cream.

This technique is also a great use for the fibrous stems of mature kale, whether from the market or garden grown. No need to throw those out. They make a delicious broth to use as the basis for a broccoli and potato soup.

My garden motto -- use every bit of the vegetable when possible.


  1. We use them too, though a bit differently. We keep a bag of vegetable scraps in the freezer: carrot peelings, onion bits, celery tops, etc., so I add the stems from kale and greens to it. When the bag is full, we make a pot of vegetable broth.

    1. Hi friend,
      Making vegetable stock with those scraps is another great way to use it all up. Good job!

  2. A good tip for next fall when I expect to have turnip greens again. I find that beet greens are not so fibrous and I cook them right along with the beets.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      I agree on beet greens and their stems, much, much more tender than turnip stems. That's great that you use them along with the greens and beets.

  3. The main stems I use are chard, just because it's one of my favorite greens to grow and use. And when I chop those stems up to use, I think they look like pink (or whatever color it is, but usually pink here) celery. So pretty!

    1. I agree, Cat. The pink stems of chard are pretty. I have white stemmed, red stemmed, and bright pink stemmed varieties growing in my garden right now. They all came out of the same packet of seeds. I've seen yellow stemmed chard, too.


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