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I’m back again with my crazy looking-friend, kohlrabi.
Have you been keeping an eye out for him at your local market? Have you given this tasty fried snack a try?
Well, now it’s time for a hearty dinner made from the same little veg – a meal to please all of my vegan companions out there.
Get ready to make this yummy coconut cream of kohlrabi soup.
Sweet caramelized onions and smooth coconut milk, garnished with a sprig of bright parsley… it’s pretty amazing!
Although this might seem less convenient, I recommend that you stock up on the smallest kohlrabi you can find. They are much sweeter, and less bitter than their bigger brothers and sisters.
Remember to peel them well, and reserve those leaves. You can turn them into a nice salad to eat on the side.
And if you can’t get enough of this crunch cruciferous, try my recipe for spicy spiralized kohlrabi slaw.
- 1 red onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoons salt plus more to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups kohlrabi
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 2 cups coconut milk
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper freshly ground, more or less to taste
- parsley minced for garnish
- Chop the onions into small pieces. Smash and peel the garlic, and give it a rough chop. Sprinkle the chopped vegetables with salt. In the base of a large stock pot, heat up the olive oil over medium heat.
- Add the seasoned onions and garlic to the pot, and turn the heat down to low. Cover the pot and let the onions caramelize low and slow for thirty minutes, stirring every five minutes.
- While the onions cook, peel the kohlrabi and chop it into 1/4-inch pieces.
- Once the onions are soft and translucent, add the kohlrabi to the pan, and turn the heat up to medium-high. Sauté until the kohlrabi is brown around the edges, stirring constantly.
- Turn the heat back down to low, and deglaze the pan by adding the apple cider vinegar. Be sure to scrape up any stuck-on brown bits – this is where the flavor resides.
- Stir in the vegetable stock and coconut milk. Let simmer for half an hour, then check the tenderness of the kohlrabi with a fork.
- Puree with an immersion blender until smooth, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, garnished with a sprinkling of parsley.
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step One – Chop
First, chop the onions into small pieces.
I prefer to do this by cutting the ends off, then slicing the whole onion in half and peeling off the outer layer of skin. Next, place each half flat side down on your cutting board and slice half moons, following the ridges in the skin.
Smash and peel the garlic, then chop it roughly. This will be pureed later, so you don’t need to worry about cutting the pieces very finely or uniformly right now.
Sprinkle the alliums with salt – this will begin to pull the water out of them, which will speed up the cooking process.
In the base of a large stock pot, begin to heat up the olive oil over medium heat.
Step Two – Caramelize
Add the salted onions and garlic to the pan, and bring the heat back down to low. Cover the pot and let the vegetables cook slowly for about half an hour.
You’ll want to give them a stir every five minutes or so, to keep the onions from sticking to the bottom of the pan. But don’t rush the process by turning up the heat!
When they are ready, the onions will be soft and translucent, and they will smell quite sweet.
If you’re worried about scorching your garlic, you could also wait to toss it in with the onions until the last couple of minutes of cooking.
While the onions cook, peel your kohlrabi and chop it into 1/4-inch pieces.
Step Three – Sauté
Once the onions are ready, add the chopped kohlrabi to the pot. Bring the heat back up to medium-high, and sauté the vegetables. They should be browned lightly on all sides.
This browning process imparts a lot of flavor on the soup, so you want to be sure not to cut it short.
Note that cutting the vegetables into small pieces also gives you more surface area with which to build that flavor, so you shouldn’t skimp on the chopping in the previous steps either.
Step Four – Deglaze
Once the vegetables are nicely browned, you need to deglaze the pan.
Turn the heat back down to low, and add the apple cider vinegar to the pot. It will simmer loudly as it breaks down the brown bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan.
These pieces are packed full of flavor thanks to what is known as the maillard reaction. And you want to capture all of that flavor! Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any pieces that have not released from the pan on their own.
Step Five – Simmer
Add the vegetable stock and coconut milk to the pot, bring it up to a simmer, and cook for another half an hour. This will finish cooking the kohlrabi and meld the flavors together.
I always keep vegetable stock on hand at home. And it’s simple to make your own at home.
Whenever I have scraps from mild vegetables or herbs (like carrots, celery, broccoli, and onion, as well as thyme and rosemary stems), I reserve them in a plastic bag in the freezer. Once the bag is full, I put them in a slow cooker, cover with water, and let this cook on low for 6 hours. Once it’s finished, I just strain out the liquid and reserve it to use as stock.
If you are not concerned with keeping this soup vegan, you could also use beef or chicken stock.
Make sure that you use coconut milk from a can, the nice thick kind. As dairy-free milk alternatives have grown in popularity, some stores sell thinned coconut milk in a carton in the dairy aisle. While this might be tasty on cereal, it won’t give you the creamy texture needed for this soup.
Step 6 – Blend, Garnish, and Serve
Once your kohlrabi is fork tender, buzz the mixture with an immersion blender. A food processor or high-speed blender will also work, but the hand-held immersion style is so convenient for blending soups.
If your soup has cooled during blending, return it to the pot and place it over low heat for a few minutes with the lid on, just to bring it back up to temperature.
Season to taste with salt and and freshly ground pepper, and garnish each bowl with fresh parsley. Serve immediately.
For a full meal, this soup pairs nicely with our roasted garlic bread and pesto salad. Branch out with other soup recipes if you’re feeling daring, like our Greek-style lemon orzo soup or Italian gnocchi soup!
If you want more creamy soup options, our cream of pistachio and cream of spinach are velvety and delicious.
What’s your favorite side to serve with a satisfying soup? Let us know in the comments below!
Photos by Kendall Vanderslice, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.
About Kendall Vanderslice
Kendall’s love of food has taken her around the world. From baking muffins on a ship in West Africa and milking cows with Tanzanian Maasai, to hunting down the finest apfelstrudel in Austria, she continually seeks to understand the global impact of food. Kendall holds a BA in Anthropology from Wheaton College and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University, and has worked in the pastry departments of many of Boston’s top kitchens. Based in Somerville, Massachusetts, Kendall helps to run a small community supported bread bakery and writes about the intersection of food, faith, and culture on her personal blog, A Vanderslice of the Sweet Life.
6 thoughts on “Vegan Cream of Kohlrabi Soup: A New Use for This Underappreciated Vegetable”
I was surprised to learn today that kohlrabi is actually a pretty decent source of Vitamin C! We don’t get this underrated vegetable much here, but I’ll be sure to keep an eye open for it at the next farmer’s market. I suppose at a push you could make this recipe with leek and baby cabbage for a similar result?
Leeks and baby cabbage sound like a delicious alternative if you can’t find kohlrabi! Turnips and/or broccoli stems are also very similar, so they would make a great substitution as well.
More kohlrabi goodness! The person who sells these at my local farmer’s market is going to make some good money! 😉 I like the idea of caramelizing the onions, and that you can include leftover vegetables. Now I’ll also have to look up the pesto salad recipe to go with it. I can see this being a nice dish to bring to a fall or winter potluck.
Kohlrabi won’t be in season too much longer, so unfortunately it will have to be just a late summer or early fall potluck. But you could always buy your kohlrabi now and freeze it for late fall or early winter!
The idea of caramelizing onions is great!
Did not work for me. I had to throw the soup away. It turned out tasting much too sour, probably due to the use of the apple cider vinegar.