A Tuber Like No Other
February 10, 2012 § 3 Comments
It’s getting difficult for me to muster enthusiasm about winter food. Roasted root vegetables were just right in November. Kale chips thrilled me in December. January, what would you have been without beets? But today I want food that is crisp, and bright, and extremely perishable. Alas, it is February, and Mother Nature says: DENIED. So, plan B is to explore winter vegetables that are new to me – undiscovered treasures that will deliver the excitement of The First Time. And that’s how I met my new friend, the Jerusalem Artichoke (nickname: ‘sunchoke’). Not the sexiest piece of produce I’ve ever laid eyes on, but what it lacks in good looks it makes up in rich, nutty flavor. Sunchokes will keep my love alive until the first snap peas appear.
I had roasted these nubbly little tubers before, but in an attempt to create A New Winter Food Experience I decided to make a puréed soup. The recipe is simple, with only a few ingredients, but it’s packed with flavor – earthy and sweet. My single complaint about sunchoke soup is its color: Gray – the opposite of crisp and bright. I distract myself from the soup’s pallor by drizzling it with parsley sauce I have stashed in the freezer (that recipe is a post for another day). You could achieve the same effect by sprinkling the soup with minced parsley and drizzling it with a bit of olive oil. Also, a bright white swirl of creme fraiche or heavy cream looks striking and boosts the decadence factor. Dig in.
adapted from a recipe by Dorie Greenspan
2 Tblsp unsalted butter
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
1 small leek, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 lb sunchokes (aka Jerusalem artichokes), scrubbed and cut into 1″ pieces
3 C best quality chicken or vegetable stock
salt & pepper
3 Tblsp parsley, minced
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1/4 C creme fraiche or heavy cream
1. Melt butter over medium-low heat in a heavy, large pot. Add onions, leek, celery, and garlic and toss to coat them with melted butter. Cook until the vegetables wilt, about 10 minutes. Add the sunchokes and salt and pepper, cook for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Don’t let the vegetables brown.
2. Add the stock and bring the soup to a boil. Lower the heat and cook the soup at a simmer for 45 minutes, or until sunchokes fall apart easily when pierced with a fork.
3. When the soup is done, purée it until very smooth. Caution! Hot soup! I like to use an immersion blender for this job, but you could use a food processor or blender. Caaaaarefully.
4. Reheat the soup if necessary and serve garnished with parsley, olive oil, and creme fraiche.