The Farmers' Market Table

May Day Stew

Once you’ve made this soup a time or two, here’s a shortcut: When the potatoes are close to being done, add the turnips, cook briefly, and then add the next ingredient, and so on. You start with the vegetable that requires the most cooking and end with the vegetable that requires the least, and at the end when you drain the whole pot each vegetable each will be cooked just right.

May Day Stew
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1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon unrefined salt

½ pound purple fingerling or new potatoes, cut in chunks

4 baby turnips, trimmed and cut in half

¾ pound asparagus, woody ends broken off, chopped

2 cups snow peas, stem ends removed and cut in half

4 scallions, chopped
3 sprigs fresh tarragon or savory
Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

4 tablespoons unrefined hazelnut oil or extra-virgin olive oil


1. Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a large saucepan; add 1 tablespoon salt and the potatoes. Cook for 5 minutes, or until fork tender. Using a slotted spoon, remove the potatoes to a large bowl and set aside.
2. Repeat with the remaining vegetables, separately blanching the turnips, asparagus, and then the snow peas until each is just cooked and adding them to the bowl. Reserve 2 cups of the blanching water.
3. Place the scallions, 2 tarragon sprigs, and the blanching water in a wide skillet or wok (a wide vessel makes for quicker heating and you retain the vibrant colors of the blanched vegetables).
4. Add the vegetables and heat just until they’re warmed through. Add the lemon juice and remaining 1 teaspoon salt and season with pepper; simmer for 1 minute. Mince the remaining tarragon.
5. Divide the stew among bowls, garnish with the minced tarragon, drizzle each bowl with hazelnut oil, and serve hot.

Note: This recipe makes perfect use of a pasta pot with a strainer insert: It enables cooking in—and removing each vegetable from—the insert. Or cook the vegetables in a large pot and remove them with a slotted spoon or a spider (a wide, shallow wire-mesh basket with a long handle). And to retain the vibrant colors of the blanched vegetables, use a wide skillet or wok to quickly heat the soup.



Rebecca Wood writes and consults about the healing potential in food. She is a Julia Child award—winning author, and her New Whole Foods Encyclopedia has been in continuous print since 1983.

Nutritional facts: 

Serves 4