I envy the children at Woodlands Junior School in Kent. Their school has a great, informative website full of information about British cultural history. I wish Americans could enroll there for summer courses on ‘what the hell is going on’. They have a lovely page about Boxing Day. Go ahead, read it through. It’s fascinating. I’ll just have a cup of tea.
… slurp …
Weird and interesting are the ways of cultural tradition, no? I don’t expect we’ll be doing any of those things today — no fox chasing, no wren killing, no mailing clay boxes of coins to impoverished anyones, no early morning shopping — I’m a little worried about leaving something for the dustmen, to be honest. They are so finicky about our rubbish, I have no idea how they’d take to a five pound note taped to the top of the bin. Or a six-pack in the composter bin? No clue.
We will assuredly enjoy the tradition of eating leftovers, and I’m sure a walk in the park will be in there somewhere. Although we didn’t have a turkey for Thanksgiving, there were plenty to choose from for Christmas. That liar Charles Dickens had convinced me that everyone in England ate roast goose for Christmas, but that is a complete fabrication: turkeys, turkeys, everywhere. Fresh, organic, and plump. And as expensive as a Mercedes, but let’s not talk about that.
But since we are on the topic of expensive foods and leftovers, let’s talk about turnips. Apparently turnips have had a bad rep as a lowly peasant food with no panache, and it is possible so many were eaten during World War II no-one British can imagine every having another one … but their inexpensive nature and unique flavor is giving them a comeback in frugal and creative households, peasant or not. Here’s a turnip soup recipe I made it in bulk using veg from our box scheme and I think I’ll toss in some leftover ham or turkey from yesterday and a few reheated rolls on the side for a warm and cozy Boxing Day afternoon tea.
Start with whatever root vegetables you have to hand: I used two turnips, two parsnips, three carrots, two potatoes, and one large celeriac. Plus one large onion and four cloves of garlic.
Peel and rough chop all the root vegetables and set aside. Meanwhile saute the onion and garlic in butter in a large stockpot. Toss in all the vegetables and let them saute, about 20 minutes or until everything has a bit of a glisten and is getting softer.
Pour four cups of very hot water over all and toss in a bouillon cube (or put in four cups of stock, whatever you have). I added some tarragon, parsley, and white pepper, fairly plain, but you could go to town with the spices. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce heat to very low and cover. Let simmer for two hours. Or whatever. I’m not very precise about these things. You may want to add some more stock or a cup of water at some point. When you think it’s done, pull it off the heat and let it cool for a bit, then use an immersion blender, or very strong arms, to combine it all into a smooth, thick soup.
I like to serve it with a dollop of sour cream in the middle and a bit of chives over top.
Happy Boxing Day!