Recipe: Jerusalem artichoke soup

Jerusalam Artichokes

Originally uploaded by A Sydney Foodie

Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion says:

These knobbly tubers are not really artichokes at all. Nor do they have anything to do with Jerusalem. (In fact, they are native of North America, where they are cultivated by the American Indians before the sixteenth century). It is thought that their name is a corruption of girasole, the Italian for sunflower, and that the flavour resembes the heart of a globe artichoke …. Jerusalem artichokes contain no starch, so their carbohydrates are well tolerated by diabetic and hypoglycaemics. However, these same carbohydrates are of the type that cannot be broken down by any enzymes we posess. The undigested carbohydrates pass into the gut intact, where they produce great quantities of gas! Jerusalem artichokes are the subject of some ribaldry because of this side effect.

I saw these artichokes at Fratelli Fresh, and I couldn’t resist buying them, I had the recipe for Jerusalem Artichoke Soup from the Cooks Companion in my mind, however I wasn’t sure how much to buy.

I ended up with 500g of unpeeled artichokes, which I guess turned into 400g of peeled? Plus a potato I had lying around.

This took me 1.5 hours to prepare from start to serving.

So this is the recipe from the book:
60g butter
500g Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and cut into even chunks
1 onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, lightly crushed
1 stick celery, finely sliced
1 litre Chicken or Veal stock, milk or water

Melt 60g butter in a heavy based saucepan and sweat vegetables for 5 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add liquid and simmer until artichoke is tender. Puree, then pass through a strainer into a clean saucepan. Adjust seasoning and reheat. Serve scattered with chives and nutmeg. (You may wish to add a little cream to soup made from stock or water before serving, either stirred into the soup or floated on top of each portion.)

The worst bit was peeling the artichokes, even though they weren’t as slippery as Stephanie had warned. Because of the discolouration potential I would peel a 5mm chuck, then slice this tip off, halve it, drop it into the acidulated water and then start again.

The stock was a cheat’s chicken stock – some carrot, celery and coriander stems, plus a roast chicken leg and a stockcube, heated to boiling, and then simmered until required.

Jerusalam Artichoke soupI didn’t pass the soup through a sieve as directed – I pureed with a stick blender as much as was possible, and then    added diced water chestnuts from a can, and coriander leaves to garnish. My attempt at a “swirl” with lactose free cream was unsuccessful, perhaps because of the differing density between the cream and the soup. I think that I would need to make a small indentation in the top, and the cream using a funnel, and then swirl with a swizzle stick.

The taste was quite nice – sort of smokey, and a bit like leek and potato soup, also in texture. I didn’t pick up the nutty texture, but the addition of the water chestnuts added some extra crunch.

This would serve 2 people, or 4 small bowls.

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