That’s some swede veg you’ve got there

I would like the world, or at least the North, to eat more swedes. You know, the ones that look like the fat retarded version of turnips. It must be the most underrated vegetable in the UK. A shame, because it’s dead easy to grow in this climate (frost tolerant and does well in moist soil), you can do lots of different things with it and it’s hard to ruin.

I say hard, it’s not impossible. In the centre of the Glasgow University main campus, there’s this foody place where they serve soup that consists mainly of brackish water, chunks of swede and carrot, and a minimal amount of barley. They then cunningly call it Scotch broth so that you are fooled into buying their Devil’s concoction. It’s only once you’ve bought it that you realise you’re actually holding a cup of reheated dishwater with veg leftovers, and that you’re going to have to eat it because you’re tight and a student and you spent a whole 90p on it. (To see what Scotch broth is meant to be like, click here!)

I bought this soup a few times (why a few times if it’s so horrible? I don’t know.) and because it tasted so depressing, so despondent, so woeful, I started seeing swede as ‘that ghoulish thing they put in the fake Scotch broth to fill you up cheaply’ so I never really felt the need to buy it. But one day, against all odds, I did, and it turned out to be really good! Swedes pure look as if they have no flavour at all, but they’re actually quite sweet and they have a very particular taste. They seem to do very well with parsley.

The easiest way to get through half a swede is with a big pan full of swede soup. So here we go!

– half a swede
– a cup of sour crème
– a potato
– a shallot
– a clove of garlic
– some curry powder
– salt, pepper, stock cubes

Finely chop your shallot and garlic and gently fry them in some sunflower oil or butter, don’t let them go brown. Add about half a tablespoon of curry powder. (Be a bit stingy with the curry powder: you want to give the soup some kick but you don’t want it to be a curry soup). Peel your potato and your swede and cut them into cubes, add them to the pan, too. Boil water and add as much as covers all the vegetables. Add some salt, some pepper and a stock cube, or probably two, actually. Now leave it to simmer for about half an hour (longer or shorter depending on the size of your cubes of veg).

When everything in the pan has gone soft, whip out your hand blender and mash it all up. Add about three tablespoons of sour crème and blend it some more. Taste to see if it needs any more spices. If it doesn’t, cut some fresh parsley if you have any and top your soup with that.

It is impossible to make swede soup look appetising in a picture, so you're going to have to cook it yourself to find out how fantastic swedes are.

About La dittatrice

After years of being based in Glasgow, I've recently made a home for myself in Turin, Italy, for the time being, at least. This blog is my captain's log. Here I note down what I did, and what I ate. A story, then a recipe. That's how this here works. Updates on Wednesdays.
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2 Responses to That’s some swede veg you’ve got there

  1. Joris says:

    Having just returned from Sweden and with my limited English vocabulary, you must have understood how strange this ingredient sounded to me. I understand the Scottish call those ‘turnip’? Excellent in many soups indeed.


  2. Some Scots do, but it’s incorrect. The name ‘swede’ derives from ‘Swedish turnip’, a sort of turnip but not exactly. Swedes are bigger than turnips and they have a different colour. Another common name in Scotland for swedes is ‘neeps’, as in ‘haggis, neeps ‘n tatties’, also an abbreviated form of (Swedish) turnip. In that particular name it’s usually associated with that specific dish and recipe, i.e. served alongside the haggis and mashed up with the potatoes.


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