Cream of sunchoke soup

by Heather

I believe in the value of trying new things as often as possible, so this weekend I bought sunchokes at the farmer’s market. I find food a deliciously inconsequential way to switch things up. Whenever I hear about someone who eats the same thing at the same time, week in and week out, or engages in other repetitive behavior, a part of me thinks, “Alzheimer’s waiting to happen!” So I like to seize the opportunity to try something new whenever it presents itself. Yesterday, it was sunchokes, something I’ve never cooked (I don’t think I’ve ever eaten them before either).

Sunchokes are a root vegetable, also known as Jerusalem artichokes. Their delicate flavor is similar to that of an artichoke heart. The ones I bought were purple on the outside with pure white flesh; they can also be brown, red, and white. Sunchokes tend to be rich in the carbohydrate inulin, which some people digest better than others.

I had some leftover cream in the fridge, so in the spirit of wasting nothing, decided to make a cream soup.

In the market basket I take to farmers’ markets, I keep a couple of ceramic egg cartons, and a small ceramic berry basket. I filled this berry basket with sunchokes, which turned out to be 9.5 ounces when I weighed them. Please adjust the recipe below to the quantity of sunchokes you want to use. I used a generous half of my carton of chicken broth.

Cream of sunchoke soup

Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as a soup course

9.5 oz sunchokes
32 oz carton chicken broth
4 T heavy whipping cream (or 8T half and half)
1 shallot, diced fine
6 cloves garlic, peeled
olive oil
1 pat butter
thyme
salt
white peppercorns
1 t cornstarch (optional)

Scrub and rinse the sunchokes well. These knobby little tubers really know how to hang on to dirt!

Drizzle a little olive oil on a jelly roll pan. Halve the sunchokes lengthwise and place cut side down on the pan along with the garlic, ensuring each piece is lightly coated in olive oil. You can add a bit of salt and pepper at this point if you like.

Roast in a 400° oven for about 20 minutes. Place the pan where it can cool.

In a small enameled Dutch oven, melt a pat of butter over low-medium heat. Add the finely-diced shallot and soften.

Meanwhile, dice the roasted vegetables and add them to the pot. Cover generously with chicken broth. Add salt, freshly-ground white pepper, and thyme to taste. A little cayenne or nutmeg would also be a good addition.

Bring to a boil slowly over medium heat, and then reduce heat to allow the soup to simmer. Enrich with 4 T heavy whipping cream. Simmer for about 15 minutes until the sunchokes are tender.

Dissolve a teaspoon of cornstarch in water or chicken broth, and stir in to thicken the soup as desired.

Note: If you like pureed soups, you can use an immersion blender to puree the soup at this point, instead of thickening it.

Serve with whole-grain crackers and some Chardonnay.

Bon appetit!

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