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Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

I love Australian foodie Stephanie Alexander. Nigella Lawson recently wrote this on Stephanie’s book A Cook’s Life: “This is an exquisite book, written with an eye for detail and a magical feeling of atmosphere that makes this, when combined with the author’s noble modesty, a book of memoirs like no other. Stephanie Alexander’s prose is, like her palate, perfect.”

That is big ups. Stephanie’s most popular book The Cook’s Companion has one of the most divine soup recipes ever – Jerusalem Artichoke Soup.  Here is Stephanie’s recipe plus her wonderful way with words about the amazing Jerusalem Artichoke:

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.

The Jerusalem Artichoke Soup recipe:

You will need:

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.)

Serves 4 entree sized bowls.

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. We actually think not to bother peeling them. We like serving with croutons as well (as pictured).

Also, don’t necessarily pass the soup through a sieve as directed – puree with a stick blender  or food processor. A Sydney Foodie’s tip was to add diced water chestnuts from a can and coriander leaves to garnish. 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.

Recipe source:

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