The name for kohlrabi is derived from “khol” meaning stem or cabbage and “rabi” meaning turnip. While it is in the cabbage family and resembles a turnip, it grows differently than both. Many people mistake kohlrabi for being a root vegetable that grows under the ground, but it is actually an enlarged stem that grows above the soil level. The stems and leaves shoot up from the bulbous part to give it, as many describe, an alien like appearance.
We grow both green and purple kohlrabi, which are no different from each other once they are peeled. The bulb and the leaves are both edible. The fibrous peel should be removed from the bulb prior to eating. You can do this easily by cutting the kohlrabi into quarters and then peeling away the outer skin with a paring knife. The flesh is crisp yet tender and sweet with a hint of a mild cabbage flavor. It can be prepared in many different ways, both raw and cooked. The simplest way to eat it is to peel it and munch on slices plain or with just a touch of salt. It can also be shredded and used in slaws with a variety of dressings or sliced and added to sandwiches or salads. Despite many years of growing and eating kohlrabi, Farmer Richard’s eyes still twinkle every year when he says… “Can we have creamy kohlrabi slaw?” It’s by far his favorite way to enjoy kohlrabi. The leaves are edible as well, so don’t just discard them. Cook them in any way you would cook kale or collard greens.
I always think of kohlrabi as an old-world European vegetable, which it is, but don’t forget that kohlrabi is also eaten in other parts of the world such as China and India. You can find some interesting ways to prepare kohlrabi in stir-fries and curries if you look to these parts of the world for recipe ideas.
To store kohlrabi, cut the stems and leaves off. Store both leaves and the bulbs in perforated plastic in the refrigerator. The leaves will keep for about 1 week, and the bulbs will last up to several weeks if stored properly.
Swiss Chard and Lentil Soup with Herbed Kohlrabi Yogurt
Yield: 6-8 servings
2 cups black beluga lentils (or green French lentils), picked over and rinsed
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3-5 scallions, lower portion minced and green tops sliced thinly (for garnish)
1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1 tsp ground cumin
1—28 oz can crushed tomatoes
3 cups Swiss chard, leaves & stems sliced thinly
Herbed Kohlrabi Yogurt, see recipe below
- Bring 5 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the lentils and cook for about 20 minutes, or until tender. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy soup pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the minced scallion, 1 tsp salt and ground cumin. Sauté a few minutes or until the onion is tender and fragrant. Stir in the tomatoes and simmer for about 8-10 minutes or until the tomato mixture has thickened a bit. Add the swiss chard to the pan, cover and continue to cook for 3-5 minutes or until the chard is just barely wilted.
- Add the lentils to the tomato mixture and stir to combine. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook for just a few minutes longer. Adjust the consistency of the soup to your liking by adding additional water to make it more thin or simmering a bit longer to thicken the soup. Remove from the heat and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Ladle the soup into bowls and serve garnished with the thinly sliced green onion tops and a dollop of the Herbed Kohlrabi Yogurt.
- Serve it with a poached egg on top
- Serve it over steamed rice or millet
- Finish the soup with a few pinches of smoked paprika or red pepper flakes to add a little flare
NOTE: This recipe is based on Heidi Swanson’s “Lively Up Yourself Lentil Soup Recipe” featured on her blog, 101 Cookbooks. She encourages her readers to put their own twist on the soup with a variety of suggestions for how to adapt the recipe to your liking. This is my version of her lentil soup recipe.—Chef Andrea Yoder
Herbed Kohlrabi Yogurt
Yield: 1 cup
1 cup Greek yogurt
½ cup finely grated kohlrabi
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Lemon zest from the rind of one lemon
1 garlic scape, minced
1 Tbsp fresh herbs, minced (parsley, savory, thyme, mint, etc)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine yogurt, kohlrabi, lemon juice and zest, garlic scapes and fresh herbs of your choosing. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
- Refrigerate the yogurt for at least 30 minutes or overnight for the best flavor.
Serving suggestions: Use this herbed kohlrabi yogurt as a topping for falafel, lentil dishes, or alongside scrambled eggs, sautéed greens or steamed rice.