Cream of Turnip Soup and reminiscing about Bunratty Castle

Writing and cooking in: Pittsburgh, PA


I’m bound to fall in love with any vegetable that has any purple qualities to it: eggplants, Adirondack blue potatoes that get purple-y when roasted, and now, turnips with a white and purple skin. I think I may be in love with the turnip. Or at least cream of turnip soup, which isn’t purple and doesn’t use the purple skin but is yummy enough that it can be forgiven.

Kevin and I had cream of turnip soup for the first time when we went to Bunratty Castle in Ireland. We attended a medieval dinner there and our first course was a thick, white soup of turnips, parsnips, and cream with a few other ingredients. We drank it right out of our bowls. The only silverware we got was a knife, in typical style of the Middle Ages. We also drank mead and ate ribs and sang along to traditional Irish songs. Kevin even got picked out of the crowd to taste the meat course and determine that whether the chef would ever cook in the castle again! (Kevin has a fantastic handlebar mustache that attracts a lot of attention, so he gets picked out for things a lot. It’s pretty cool.)

Our hosts at Bunratty

I knew when we were at Bunratty it was a once in a lifetime experience: dinner in castle with amazing food, plenty of wine, and servers rarely broke character and could all sing beautifully. But I thought maybe I could recreate the soup. Kevin and I both loved the creamy concoction of turnips and parsnips. And Kevin is notoriously neither a vegetable person or a soup person, which let me know it really was good and I wasn’t just hyperbolizing. Sometimes I get carried away.

I am happy to report that I did a pretty good job recreating the soup and that it was easier than I thought. In fact, I just finished making a second batch because my first batch was just too small and didn’t last. I served it with leftover ribs, so it really was as close as we’ll get to going back to Bunratty for dinner.

Bunratty Castle

Cream of Turnip Soup

1 large white onion, peeled and diced

2 medium parsnips, peeled and diced

4 T butter

5 cups chicken stock

1 pound turnips, peeled and cut in chunks

1/2 cup heavy cream

salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in the bottom of a heavy stock pot and saute onions and parsnips until onions are transluscent (about 5 minutes). Add in stock and turnips. Bring to a boil and simmer approximately fifteen minutes (until turnips are tender). Remove from heat, cool slightly, and blend until smooth. Return to stove and cook about five minutes longer. Add heavy cream and heat through. Season to taste. Serve hot.

Variation: Double the amount of heavy cream in the recipe. Chill and serve in frosted mugs. Garnish with fresh cracked pepper and nutmeg.

Today’s local ingredients:

Parsnips and onion from Farmers’ Market Cooperative of East Liberty

Turnips, Clarion River Organics via Penn’s Corner CSA

Heavy Cream, Turner’s Dairy, Penn Hills, PA via Whole Foods

Chicken stock, stock that I made and froze during The Chicken Project from Clarion River Organics chicken neck and bones

This post is part of Fight Back Friday.

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  1. Mark says

    Thank for posting the Bunratty Castle soup recipe. My wife just turned to me and said she would love to make that ‘soup we loved at Bunratty’. Hope it wsn’t the mead that made it seem so tasty. Can’ t beat a good turnip!

    • says

      Going to Bunratty was one of the best parts of our trip to Ireland! I hope the soup lives up to your expectations! It’s by no means the official recipe, but the best I could do based on memory, Internet research, and my tastebuds. Let me know how it turns out!

      And yeah, that mead was so good. I could go for a glass of that!!

  2. Maryln Dudrow says

    The soup we had at Bunratty in October had a lot of curry in it. I wonder if they always serve the same soup? But thanks for your recipe. I’m going to try it.

    • says

      Interesting…maybe they don’t always serve the same soup as I don’t remember tasting any curry at all. Plus, my boyfriend hates curry and can pick it up a mile away so maybe they do vary it. Do you have a recipe or thoughts on the soup you had there? I bet it was delicious, too!

  3. says

    Thanks for posting this recipe. I was looking for another Irish dish to serve on St. Patrick’s Day and this fill the bill. I made this soup again yesterday, but this time I roasted the parsnips and turnips before had. That added a ton of flavor to the soup and helped to thicken it more. Thank you for the inspiration. I wrote about the soup on my blog today (, making mention of your original recipe.

    • says

      So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Roasting the turnips and parsnips beforehand is a great idea! I’ll have to try making it that way. Thanks for reading and mentioning my recipe on your blog!

  4. Jennifer Champlin says

    I have been looking for a receipe for the soup at that castle for like 6 years!!! Now I just need the receipe for the ribs…which is super secret I know. Some of us are all the way in Oregon now though!. Thanks for the receipe, I am glad someone else liked it as much as I did 🙂

  5. James Gagne says

    My friends father is the Master of Cermony for the banquet there. I had my friend get the recipe, but unfortunately it doesn’t have the ratio’s because they are obviously serving a larger number of people. The ingredients are:
    Parsnip (obviously)
    Vegetable Stock/Chicken stock(which they used from the roasted veg they serve their)
    heavy cream
    and most definitely curry.

    • says

      That’s so great!!! I’ll have to modify my recipe with the curry. For some reason I don’t remember it tasting like curry…but that honey mead was awfully good, so that could easily have clouded my tastebuds. 🙂 Your friends father is such a fun person! He and my boyfriend really hit it off – he liked the handlebar mustache Kevin was sporting at the time.


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