We’re coming up on my favorite food holiday, Thanksgiving, and I for one have been looking for a new soup, salad or side to go along with the must-have traditional fare. I remembered a recipe for “Smashed Fried Sunchokes” over on Greg’s blog Sippity Sup and I became totally curious about this interesting root vegetable. Inspired by Greg, I decided to try making a soup from this new-to-me produce item. FYI Jerusalem Artichokes aka Sunchokes.
I was off to my local Ralph’s market to buy the pound and a half of Jerusalem Artichokes I would need, and as I couldn’t spot them anywhere, I asked the produce guy if they had any. Oh yes, he said, in that basket on the top shelf. Over I went, only to spot some light and dark brown striped tubers, which had no label to identify them, but I knew to be taro. I told the guy they weren’t Jerusalem Artichokes and he said that was what he had been telling his customers. He said he was going to go look on his computer and prove he was correct. So off he went. Jeez.
And off I went to Whole Foods, where the produce manager had to go to the back room to get them, but I soon had my grubby hands on my pound and a half of Jerusalem Artichokes. What a relief. I could hardly wait to get home and make my soup.
I was so happy I tried this new ingredient, which made a beautiful slightly sweet, nutty and delicious smooth soup, with that after-taste on the back of your tongue like actual artichokes. I asked a family member to try a spoonful and the reaction was, “Oh yum. That’s really good.” See? You need to try this, too.
Jerusalem Artichokes (helianthus Tuberosus) are native to eastern North America from Canada and Maine, west to North Dakota, south to Florida and northern Texas. They are a species of sunflower and were cultivated by Native Americans as a food source before the arrival of Europeans. The colonists sent samples of the tuber back to Europe where it became a popular crop. The Jerusalem Artichoke was titled “best soup vegetable” at the 2002 Nice Festival for the Heritage of the French Cuisine.
Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Bacon & Hazelnuts
1 ½ pounds Jerusalem Artichokes (sunchokes), scrubbed and dark spots removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large shallot, finely shopped
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 can (13.5 oz) coconut milk
2 cans chicken broth (14.5 oz each), low sodium
1 cup thinly sliced greens, such as dandelion greens, Italian parsley, arugula
3 slices bacon, cooked, cut in ¼-inch slices
1/3 cup chopped roasted nuts, such as almond slices, hazelnuts, pecans
3 tablespoons olive oil, for drizzling
Optional: sourdough croutons sautéed in butter
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil.
2. Coarsely chop jerusalem artichokes in food processor in several batches. Scrape into large bowl and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Toss to coat.
3. Spread Jerusalem artichokes evenly on sheet. Roast in oven about 20 minutes until soft.
4. In large pot or Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring, until softened but not browned. Add garlic and stir for 1 minute. Add coconut milk and chicken broth, increase heat to medium high and bring to a simmer.
5. Transfer roasted Jerusalem artichokes to simmering broth. In batches, puree in blender or food processor until smooth. Adjust consistency with additional chicken broth or water.
6. Pour soup through fine mesh strainer into clean pot, pressing and scraping to pass through all solids. Small pieces of brown skin should remain in strainer.
7. Reheat to simmering. Ladle into soup bowls and top with a drizzle of oil and garnish of choice, such as bacon bits, sliced greens and nuts.