Sunchoke Soup (Jerusalem Artichoke)

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Earthy, sexy, silky, sunchokes beguile. Peeled, simmered and pureed, these unlovely-looking little lumps transform into a beautifully aromatic soup. To me, they’re not unlike truffles in their scent and ability to make you crave just a little bit more.

Sunchokes or “sunflower artichokes” are not artichokes at all, but tubers related to the sunflower. I first came across them at a local market in winter. Thinking at first that they were ginger–all knobs, and kinks and whimsical protuberances with that same papery skin–I about passed them by. But then I made this soup and they completely won me over. It was a good first step: According to Judith and Evan Jones of “The L.L. Bean Book of New New-England Cookery” sunchoke soup–long served as a first course on old Yankee tables–was called “Palestine” soup back in the day.

Now, always on the watch, I snatch sunchokes up when they appear in cool weaher. This batch came from Nichols Farm, in Marengo, IL, which sells two varieties–teeny red, and larger white–of the chokes at the Greencity Market. I’ve only tried the white (larger means easier to peel) but the Nichols say the red ones taste about the same.

 

Makes 6 servings

Sunchoke Soup Ingredients

  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 pounds sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes)
  • 2 cups good quality chicken stock
  • 2 cups vegetable stock (NOTE: If you want to make this vegetarian, just use a full quart of vegetable stock and omit the chicken stock)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp per serving of white truffle oil as garnish

Instructions

  1. Carefully peel and clean sunchokes. (Some cooks say you can prepare sunchokes for soup without peeling them, but I prefer a very smooth, silky soup and achieve that best by peeling the ‘chokes.) Heat butter in saute pan. Add onion and saute until very soft, adding a few Tbsp of water as needed to ensure the onions do not brown. Once water has cooked off, stir in the chopped cleaned sunchokes and saute for a few more minutes, again adding a little water to keep from browning. Add all of the stock and simmer for 1/2 hour until sunchokes are very soft. Using a blender (immersion or regular) puree the soup until very smooth. Cool slightly. Pour into a fine mesh strainer and press and rub soup through. This takes some time, but doing this last step will remove any bits of fiber or skin and will ensure your finished soup is very silky. Just before serving, swirl a 1/2 tsp of white truffle oil on the top of each bowl of soup.

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