Turniphead Cawl | Howl’s Moving Castle

Howl’s Moving Castle is a 1986 fantasy novel by Diana Wynne Jones and subsequent 2004 Ghibli movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It’s the tale of the young hatmaker Sophie who was cursed with old age, and escapes to Howl’s castle, a steampunk fortress home to several enchanting characters, careening across the countryside. They are tonally different, the book having that very matter-of-face Britishy voice and the movie being soft, strange and meandering, but both very charming and observant. They explore themes of destiny – and the movie dips into pacifism – and a refreshing take on old age, when a person can be at peace with themself and therefore truly free.

When brainstorming a dish for Howl’s Moving Castle, I thought Welsh Cawl might be a nice choice – is the national dish of Wales from whence hails Howl, and although Sophie hates turnips she has somewhat affectionately named the stalky scarecrow Turniphead. I carved little faces into my turnips, so Halloweeny – keep Halloween in your heart all through the year.

Recommended, do the meat and broth step the day before so it has time to cool and you can spoon off the fat.

Turniphead Cawl

  • 1.5 pounds bone-in lamb shoulder, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • flavorless oil
  • salt & pepper
  • herbs (I used several sprigs of thyme and a sprig of rosemary)
  • 2 leeks, trimmed and sliced into half moons
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into half moons
  • 3 medium turnips, peeled, halved, and carved into faces
  • handful parsley finely chopped

Salt and pepper the meat and heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium high in a large soup pot. Brown in two batches, then add 6 cups water and the rest of the meat into pot, stirring well to scrape up any brown bits. Add herbs, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer for an hour.

Cool completely in the fridge. Scrape off fat and discard. Strain the meat out to a plate, and strain the broth.

In the soup pot, gently heat 2 teaspoons oil. Add leaks and carrots to the pot and gently stir to coat, cooking several minutes until wilted and soft. Add broth, meat, and turnips. Bring up to a simmer and simmer until turnips are soft and can be easily pierced with a paring knife, 10-15 minutes.

Arrange in a bowl and serve hot, garnished with parsley.

Recipe for Fiction Kitchen Episode 49: HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE in which Carrie and Diana discuss the novel by Diana Wynne Jones as well as the Ghibli movie – with fire demon-cooked bacon, luscious cream cakes, magical honey and questionable turnip heads.