Radish Leaf Soup

Tough times call for looking at everything in the kitchen as a potential source of food. I’ve been saving the breadcrumbs on my cutting board and scraping them into pots of soup. I parsimoniously scrutinize every egg I use, counting how many I might need for any upcoming baking projects. Fresh lettuce has become a precious commodity as I’m trying to only to go food shopping only one day per week. We don’t have the same shortages (or hoarding) they have in other places, but some things are in short supply, mostly pasta, rice, flour, and yeast.

When I filled my wheeled caddy with produce on my last trip to the natural food store, I included two big bunches of radishes since we eat a lot of them, and I didn’t want to be caught without any. Usually, I toss the leaves, since we don’t have composting here yet, and I do so much cooking and baking, it’s not possible to always use everything*. (I need to go outside sometimes, ya know, even if we’re not locked down in confinement.) But I remembered when we used to visit Romain’s parents, they would often serve us Soupe aux fanes de radis, or Radish Leaf Soup.

It’s one of those foods that was born out of the idea of using everything and wasting nothing. Like “nose-to-tail” cooking, this would be “root-to-leaf.” All parts of the radishes are used, from the spindly tips of the radishes to the mildly peppery greens sprouting off the tops of their heads. The meaty radishes themselves can be sliced and served over the finished soupe, or velouté, since I find a touch of cream smooths out the soup nicely and carries the flavor nicely through the bowl.

Going to a bakery, in addition to having fresh produce, has become another thing that feels like a luxury. I’ve had quite a few close calls with “space invaders,” as somehow, a number of others haven’t gotten up to speed on social-distancing guidelines and the rules are elusive (or don’t seem to apply**) to them. So going out has become too much of a challenge for me, as I remain cautious. Romain is a champ, though, and will risk it all for a baguette, and for me. And that’s something I’ve become extra-appreciative of, too.

Radish Leaf Soup
Print Recipe
6 to 8 servings
I strongly suggest you use radish leaves that are unsprayed or organic, and wash them well to make sure all grit has been removed. If you don't have enough radish leaves, feel free to make half the recipe, or bulk it up with lettuce or another mild green. Something like spinach, kale, or Swiss chard will overtake the flavor of the radish leaves (although it's not the end of the world if you're trying to use up odds and ends of various greens), but you could use arugula in addition to the radish leaves, or something similar. I don't peel the potatoes but you are welcome to. If using commercial chicken stock, cut the salt in half and add more, to taste. If you don't have chicken stock, water or vegetable stock works fine. I added a touch of heavy cream, which smoothed things out nicely and gives the soup a subtle richness, but offered a few alternatives. You could use more, or use regular milk (cow or plant-based), or leave it out. Possible garnishes are, but are not limited to, pumpkin seeds, sliced radishes, crème fraîche, sour cream, olive oil, freshly cracked black or a pinch of red pepper powder, scallions, edible flowers, fresh herbs, a dollop of pesto, or a dribble of pumpkin seed oil.
2 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and diced, or 2 leeks, cleaned and sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
freshly ground black pepper (I used a total of about 1 teaspoon of pepper)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2 medium potatoes, washed and diced, (12-16oz, 340-450g)
2 cups (500ml) water
12 cups (lightly packed) fresh radish leaves, rinsed very well (9 oz, 270g)
3 cups (750ml) chicken stock
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup (125ml) heavy cream, sour cream, mascarpone, or creme fraiche
1. Heat the butter and olive oil in a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, seasoning them with the salt and pepper, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for a minute or two, to help them release their aroma.
2. Add the potatoes and 2 cups of water to the pot. Cover, bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a steady simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender when poked with the tip of a sharp paring knife, about 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Add the radish leaves and stock. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer just until the radish leaves are wilted and cooked through. Remove from heat.
4. If using an immersion blender, add the cream, mustard, cayenne, and cream to the pot and puree until smooth. If using a standard blender, let the soup cool until tepid then puree the soup with the cream and mustard. (Never fill a blender more than half full with hot liquid as it can blow off the lid and cause injuries.) Rewarm the soup and serve with any of the suggested garnishes.

Storage: The soup will keep up to four days in the refrigerator and can be frozen for up to three months.

*I did read that you can make with banana peel tea with banana peels. Just an FYI for DIYers.

**Sorry to be nebulous here. I haven’t figured out why so many haven’t gotten the message about keeping one’s distance since the government and health ministry have done an excellent job of diffusing that information.

Radish Leaf Soup

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  • April 9, 2020 12:09pm

    Delicious. A more refined version of my ‘compost soup’ where I use radish tops, leak tops and all the bits you normally throw away or on the compost.

    • April 9, 2020 2:13pm

      Am here in Paris as well and growing radishes on my balcony. I am growing them not so much because I want them but at the time had been given a lot of radish seeds. I have been using the leaves in salad but may try a soup (though my kids are not too keen on soup.. and probably even less than usual now that the weather is warmer. Since then I have gotten more seeds and have planted kale, french and chinese green beans and swiss chard. I also have mint, parsley and chives in my herb garden. I didn’t have tomato seeds but am trying out using a fresh tomato to grow a new plant. Am so thankful for my balcony!

      • Kelly
        April 25, 2020 11:11pm

        I just had it cold for lunch today with a sprinkle of chives. I love it hot or cold!

  • April 9, 2020 12:40pm

    I think a lot of people live in their own little bubble, and it never occurs to them they are inconveniencing others. So they have no idea they are breaching social distancing rules (or think it’s you, not them).

  • Lynn
    April 9, 2020 1:13pm

    What a lovely post-Seder/Easter course. I’m eying the horseradish and wilty spinach. Yours is so pretty, and inviting.

  • April 9, 2020 1:21pm

    Great recipe. I never throw radish tops as it makes a wonderful pesto, this is a link to my recipe if you are interested, it is very easy to adapt to whatever season and herb you have available. https://www.lamaisondurire.com/radish-leaf-pesto/

    • Emma C.
      April 9, 2020 4:10pm

      I also make radish leaf pesto; I use Clotilde Dusoulier‘s guide: https://cnz.to/recipes/dips-spreads/radish-leaf-pesto-recipe/

      This soup looks delicious! It is not quite radish season where I live, but it is coming!

      • Pleased as Punch!
        April 9, 2020 5:11pm

        This is one of my favorite favorite pestos. For anyone debating what nuts/cheese to pair with radish leaves, I’ve done a million batches of this and have decided that my favorite pairing is pecans (lush, don’t add any further bite – the greens have *plenty*!) and pecorino (strong enough to stand up to the greens).

      • Linda R
        April 9, 2020 8:47pm

        Hi Emma,
        Do you know what happened to Clotilde Dusoulier? I loved her blog and made many of her recipes and then suddenly stopped receiving anything a while back and haven’t been able to figure out if she is still doing her blog or not. She doesn’t answer any requests for information. If you know what happened I would love to know. Thank you, Linda (in San Diego, California)

        • Nikki Moranville
          April 11, 2020 4:04pm

          I have wondered what happened to Clotilde as well. I hope she is doing ok.

        • Diane Campbell
          April 12, 2020 11:23am

          Ooh must try, thanks. One of my favourites other than the classic Genovese is Matt Prestons Nasturtium Pesto which uses macadamias – they are also good with Coriander/chilli in which case I don’t use cheese.

          Wild Garlic aka Three cornered alium is good with lots of other greens such as Nasturtium, its a bit harsh by itself.

        • Diane Campbell
          April 12, 2020 11:23am

          https://cnz.to/ Clotilde is still there, last post about 10 days ago

          • RochelleM.
            April 13, 2020 7:46am

            If you look at the comments, you’ll find those are older posts from years ago that looks like they were reposted

    • PZ
      April 9, 2020 4:14pm

      I don’t have enough radish leaves for the soup but I do have enough to make this pesto! Headed to the kitchen.

  • Keka De
    April 9, 2020 1:59pm

    In Bengal, we use up all these leftover leaves by cooking them with mustard seeds or nigella seeds and a single dried red chili. It’s not just eaten with dal and rice (which are daily staples for Indians) or even as a filling for a yummy sandwich with a bit of cheese!

    • jane
      April 9, 2020 3:42pm

      That does sound like it would make an excellent grilled cheese sandwich addition.

      I am filling garden trays – and a couple of those large plastic mushroom punnets Costco inconceivably still allows and which I cannot throw away (2020 and we still package small produce in PLASTIC trays instead of degradable pulp fiber punnets?? Baffling and I try never to buy them unless I know I am going to reuse the container but still) – with potting soil and planting baby lettuce for a cut and come again tray.

      I put them in a sunny window in the kitchen. I need fresh greens period so already had my seeds purchased thankfully. Also dug up some broccoli seed for broccoli sprouts for the interim.

      • jane
        April 9, 2020 3:44pm

        …metaphorically dug up from the cupboard, that is : )

  • April 9, 2020 2:35pm

    This recipe sounds delicious, as do the two recipe suggestions in the comments. I wish that I had radish leaves right now! I’m reaching a two-week without shopping point (the recommended time period for us in the U.S.) and it is quite challenging. I’m particularly concerned about milk and fresh vegetables. However, others have much greater hardships and I appreciate that I am so fortunate.
    What is it about the social distancing issues? I was crowded at the egg section of the store two weeks ago.
    Thanks for your wonderful posts. I look forward to them. Stay safe.

    • jane
      April 9, 2020 3:57pm

      Can you not get delivery in your area? Pretty much every grocery store has always had delivery. The $9.95 fee is pretty worth it.

      I’ve also made very quick in and out trips – with a mask – at the crack of dawn to the local mega-market here which opens at 7. It’s been freshly sanitized overnight and no one is there at that hour. I shower and wash the clothes I wore immediately after, feeling like a crazy person but also it gives me peace of mind.

      But I will order delivery when I need to.

      • April 9, 2020 4:12pm
        David Lebovitz

        I like going to the store to buy my food and found that if I go first thing, there are usually fewer people. I won’t get into what happened the other day when I went to the pharmacy and another produce shop in my neighborhood, but I was pretty terrified out how people were behaving. So decided to start using a delivery service which is a bummer because I like to support my local shops, but it’s not worth the risk.

        • Sofia
          April 10, 2020 8:38am

          I too want to support my local shops but after a few too many bad experiences I’m ordering more and more online I love this soup recipe though David, I’ve been making my own yogurt with any milk we have leftover so added that instead of cream- I was nervous it wouldn’t work out well but it was actually beautiful. The power of a good recipe, so strong it stands up to improvisation. Thank you David Stay safe

      • April 11, 2020 3:42pm

        Hi Jane. I’ve tried delivery and curbside pickup via Prime for a Whole Foods store near me. I’ve never gotten a window. I will venture out soon, mask on. I’m now planning to wait until after Easter to avoid crowds. My last trip to WF was very early in the morning. I found the store clean and the folks working there to be so kind. I appreciate all that they are doing right now and I hope that they are safe.

  • Debra
    April 9, 2020 2:36pm

    I was drawn to this post since I received some humungous radishes from our local farm delivery! I sliced into large chunks and roasted them and they were delicious! I had no idea! Thanks for this. Stay safe.

  • Vickie Harvey
    April 9, 2020 3:04pm

    Do you the think the radish leaves could be collected and frozen until I have enough?

  • Jake Sterling
    April 9, 2020 3:09pm

    If you have a little space in your freezer, greens of all sorts can be frozen for later use in cooked dishes. When freezing many vegetables, it is a good idea to blanch them briefly first. It really depends on how long you intend to leave them frozen. If it is only going to be a couple of days, until you collect enough for a soup or whatever, just pop them directly into a plastic bag.

  • Marty
    April 9, 2020 3:24pm

    I just planted radishes this week. As I plant my garden this year, I try to imagine a better time ahead. Can’t wait to try this soup.

  • Caroline
    April 9, 2020 4:03pm

    EverySpring I go into earth mother mode and concoct radish leaf soup
    (to the silent but wholly tangible dismay of my husband) and although I love the idea am always somewhat underwhelmed by the result. I use all your ingredients except for the mustard which probably lifts the taste and accentuates the peppery taste of the leaves. So must try again!
    FYI almost all these creamy soups are excellent chilled but not if they’ve been stashed in the freezer. They tend to separate in a most discouraging way.

  • April 9, 2020 4:06pm

    I love the idea of using all parts of the plant! Radishes are very common in the markets here in Mexico, though usually sprayed. I would only make this with unsprayed leaves, as you did.
    We just made your cabbage soup recipe of last week. Delicious!
    ~ Kathleen

  • Peter L
    April 9, 2020 4:27pm

    When we are cleaning, trimming, cutting almost ANY rinsed and/or washed vegetables, all trimmings go into a freezer bag. When we have three full bags, it’s time to make stock.

  • April 9, 2020 4:39pm

    I have radishes, leaves, potatoes, I see this soup in my not to distant future!!

  • Marie Hansen
    April 9, 2020 5:32pm

    Turnip greens are lovely as well—no need to throw those or radish greens away! Dashi is an easy broth to make of simmered dried mushrooms, kombu seaweed and soy that you can finish with a spoon of miso and those wilted greens.

    • Susan
      April 19, 2020 7:41pm

      I just made this soup and it is outstanding! Thank you! I love your compassion for folks and helping us think outside the box with what to cook. Thank you!

  • April 9, 2020 5:44pm

    David, the “space invaders” are called Covidiots.

    • April 10, 2020 7:47am
      David Lebovitz

      The word “imbéciles” has been used here by government officials and even shopkeepers. I was looking to see if a wine store was open for deliveries and on their Facebook page they posted a pic of their front door with a sign on it, saying that due to imbéciles, they could only let one person in the shop at a time. (They also added a reminder that “1 couple = 2 personnes”)

      • jane
        April 17, 2020 3:52am

        lol, so great, the directness of the French.

  • Kathy Watson
    April 9, 2020 5:54pm

    I make a very similar soup that I serve chilled in the spring and summer. Wonderful start to a dinner of grilled lamb.

    Another green I have come to love: kohlrabi leaves. They don’t have that tannic quality of beet leaves, and are slightly peppery and buttery. They would be a nice substitute for the radish greens later in the summer when they come on in all their leafy glory.

    • April 10, 2020 7:43am
      David Lebovitz

      I’ve never had kohlrabi leaves (I don’t think I’ve seen them) but I do like kohlrabi a lot. We eat it raw, sliced thin, and it’s great for dips and spreads.

  • Leslie B.
    April 9, 2020 5:58pm

    Please tell me that Romain is a champ who wears a mask when he goes out. For his own sake and yours.! A bandana, at least, would look chic and reduce the risk. Please!

    • April 10, 2020 7:42am
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, he is resolute about wearing a mask when he goes out. Apparently the city of Paris is going to be distributing masks (2 million) to everyone in the coming days, so everyone will have one. Hope people wear them to protect more lives!

  • Alicia A
    April 9, 2020 6:52pm

    It’s amazing what foods we are coming up with. I never thought of radish greens. Unfortunately I just have Queen Anne’s lace greens and daffodils coming up in my yard now. Who knows what I have buried in my freezer!
    Could be some soup ingredients for sure! I’ve been baking no knead breads almost daily.

  • chefkreso
    April 9, 2020 7:01pm

    This soup sounds absolutely delicious, I also love the photos you took for this post, they are so beautiful!

  • Shell
    April 9, 2020 9:14pm

    What a great idea. Ive tried adding radish leaves in a salad (hating to throw them out, especially if youve grown them yourself) but their scratchy texture was off-puting.

  • Cecile Moochnek
    April 9, 2020 9:42pm

    have always used radish leaves for my green potage but wanted a recipe for just radish leaves since i have so many in the freezer

  • Marji
    April 9, 2020 10:05pm

    Radish greens! I buy the radishes just to get them. Excellent sautéed with some cherry tomatoes and served on a fried egg sandwich. Or just tossed into the melange of sauteed greens for dinner.

  • Randi Theobald
    April 9, 2020 10:09pm

    It’s not a comment on the soup per se but how we use things now … my husband I were making marinara last week and he scooped out some onions, celery and garlic while sauteeing saying we had too much. I would have tossed it but saved it and made a batch of soup using fresh and frozen veggies and some leftover beef and pasta. Got three soup meals which I froze.

    • April 10, 2020 7:40am
      David Lebovitz

      Our freezers right now do seem to be our best friends. I have a lot of stuff in mine (well, as usual…) but am being extra vigilant about saving everything, and using all the odds and ends I’ve got stashed in there.

  • April 9, 2020 10:10pm

    A friend brought me a care package from the Grand Frais near Versailles, fabulous stuff there. This post came too late to save the radish leaves, but I still have carrot leaves & stems – I wonder if I could tweak this recipe and use the carrot greens, I was going to make pesto but this soup looks gorgeous & delicious.

    • April 10, 2020 7:39am
      David Lebovitz

      Grand Frais is fun to shop at. Unfortunately, there isn’t one in Paris but I’ve found fresh corn on the cob there in summer!

  • April 9, 2020 10:30pm

    Hi David,
    I have been a follower for quite a while and love your recipes and lovely photos. Now, I am following your videos on Instagram, so I get to put a face to your blog. Thanks for your great content and inspiration.

    • April 10, 2020 7:38am
      David Lebovitz

      Happy you are tuning into the videos – they’re fun to do…especially now – it’s a good way to stay connected!

      • rose
        April 18, 2020 12:57am

        I wonder if you’d consider re-posting these videos in a tab on your website?

        I caught a few before Instagram locked-down it’s site for private users only. While I do want to support my favorite posters, I will never be bullied into opening an account like that. I’d rather support your website and you directly.

  • John Pelka
    April 9, 2020 11:18pm

    Hi David-
    Your recipe reminds me very much of one of my favorite children’s books “Stone Soup” (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/193093.Stone_Soup) based on the old French tale. I’m sure your soup tastes infinitely better.

  • Juliann Goldman
    April 9, 2020 11:43pm

    I thank all those who are keeping us sane through their cooking! I wish I could just get the leaves. I’m not a big fan of the radish itself. Brown mustard, fenugreek and cumin seeds sizzled in oil. Add thinly sliced red onions and saute until soft. Add diced Yukon gold potatoes and salt, turmeric and cayenne to taste. Cover and reduce heat. Cook until potatoes are tender (might need to add water to prevent sticking). Add radish greens, cover and cook until wilted. Sprinkle with pinch of sugar (optional) and lemon juice.

  • April 10, 2020 12:01am

    I’m a root to leaf kinda gal and have been for quite a while. I usually toss my radish leaves in with other greens that I am tossing in the wok. But this recipe has grabbed me! Radishes are plentiful and wonderful this time of year. I will be grabbing lots of them to cook this and pickle the radishes too!

  • Miki
    April 10, 2020 1:57am

    I just did this. Added cauliflower and the rest of the recipe. It turned out excellent! Thank you so much for this recipe.

    • April 10, 2020 7:37am
      David Lebovitz

      Glad it worked out with cauliflower!

  • Pamela
    April 10, 2020 2:04am

    I am really interested in making this soup. It looks so yummy and unusual. Here in Japan, people use/eat turnip leaves too. Here turnips are harvested rather young so the leaves are tender.

    I am also so happy that you added the weight of the leaves In the recipe. I have never been able to understand WHY recipes use cups to measure leaves. I know you have said above 9 cups, but how on earth do you figure what 9 cups of leaves are??? Pack them tight?? Pack them loose?? ;-)

    • April 10, 2020 7:37am
      David Lebovitz

      It’s, um… a chore to do all the conversions but with different measurement systems, I have to figure out ways to make the recipe(s) as accessible to people as possible. I just put the leaves in a measuring cup and press them down (lightly packed) just enough to get a reading for the quantity. In soup recipes, it’s not urgent to be super accurate. But yes, at some point if we all got on the same page for measurements, it’d be a lot easier :)

  • paul
    April 10, 2020 6:19pm

    Making Focaccia topped with sautéed beet stems and leaves with lots of garlic & olive oil! Stems are a lovely red color too!

  • ronald shapley
    April 12, 2020 1:34pm

    maybe a $ 500 fine these thugs would get the message..

  • Georgette
    April 12, 2020 3:01pm

    On the Now Serving conversation yesterday you asked for book idea. After seeing this recipe, I agree with the soup book suggestion. This looks so good.

  • Anna Savelsberg
    April 12, 2020 9:05pm

    This looks delicious. We will have to try this next time we buy radishes. This is one of my favorite recipes that use the whole radish https://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/sauteed-radish-and-greens-pasta-with-crispy-pancetta
    We eat it whenever we can find radishes with beautiful looking greens at the farmers market!

  • Janet Miller
    April 13, 2020 2:58am

    I’ve only recently become a fan of radishes. My husband loves them but I accuse him of just using them as a vehicle for salt. However, I recently learned from Ina Garten that they make amazing tzatziki sauce! I love the radish tzatziki even more than cucumber. And so pretty!

  • Liz C
    April 14, 2020 3:38pm

    Hi from St Germain en Laye, off at the end of RER A. I made this for lunch today, it took less than 30 minutes and was delicious. I enjoyed the use of mascarpone instead of crème fraîche, it seemed to give smooth roundness without being too rich or sickly (I’m not a big fan of cream in savoury dishes). I even used the dreaded “cube” for stock (a really basic one with MSG and palm oil – it’s all I can find atm) and it was undetectable. A huge thank you for such a useful recipe!

    This week I have also made the chicken with harissa, leeks and herbs and the strawberry-rhubarb open pie as well as a Hanky Panky. Keep up your wonderful work David, you really cheer us up!

  • Jeannine
    April 18, 2020 6:35am

    I had fun making this, only had one bunch of radish leaves so added a bunch of spinach. Also had only sweet potatoes, so used that which muddied the green just a bit and no cream but a 6oz yogurt worked well. I garnished with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast and a few marjoram.

  • M
    April 19, 2020 10:44pm

    What about turnips leaves? Would they work here too? I have never used them before and I got a bunch in my CSA box with some rashishes.

    • April 20, 2020 8:34am
      David Lebovitz

      I’ve not used turnip leaves but you could certainly use the base of this soup and just add turnip leaves in a quantity that seems right. I haven’t used them so can’t say for sure, but turnip leaves can vary, depending on their size and age (some are tougher than others) so you’ll need to adjust for that.

  • Donalda Maunakea
    May 5, 2020 2:48am

    This soup is wonderful! I just made it and had a little bowl for lunch. My friends have a large organic radish patch & give me radishes, felt bad giving all the beautiful leaves to the chickens. Mahalo for another lovely recipe!