Last week, with hurricane Sandy quickly approaching, I tried to use up most of our food in case we lost power. At a time like that, what could be more comforting than a warm bowl of soup? With a bag of sunchokes on the counter just begging to be used, sunchoke soup was the perfect choice. Sunchokes, or Jerusalem artichokes (they are neither artichokes nor are they from Jerusalem. They're the root of a variety of sunflower and look a bit like ginger root) are in season from the fall to early spring. If you've never had sunchokes before, they taste like a cross between artichokes and sunflower seeds. Sunchokes make a beautiful soup which is incredibly flavorful and has a unique nutty and earthy quality.
While at the farmers market, I heard so many people say, "Sunchokes? But what do you do with them?" Sunchokes are extremely versatile and the simplest answer to that question is that they can be cooked in the same ways as you would potatoes. In addition, they can be shaved and eaten raw in salads. Don't be discouraged if they look like a pain to peel. Sure, they might take a little longer to peel than a potato or carrot, but it's worth it!
Aaron's sister, Amy, and our friend Caitlin stayed with us at our apartment during hurricane Sandy, as they lived in potential flood zones, or areas which later lost power. Together, we hunkered down and enjoyed this soup along with some homemade beer bread just before the storm hit. Little did we know how bad it was going to be. My heart goes out to everyone affected by the devastation of hurricane Sandy. At times like these I'm especially proud to be a New Yorker. People from every walk of life have come together to help those in need. Let's all hope for a quick recovery!
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. butter
1 1/2 lb. sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes), peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 leek (white and pale green parts only), chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. thyme, minced (plus extra for garnish)
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 tbsp. cream
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the leeks and onions and saute over medium-high heat until the onions are translucent (adjust heat to avoid browning), about 5 minutes. Add the thyme and garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Pour in the stock and add the sunchokes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover the pot, leaving the lid slightly ajar, and simmer for 45 minutes or until the sunchokes are soft. Set aside to cool.
Puree the soup using a stick blender or food processor (for the latter, puree in batches), until smooth and creamy. Return the soup to the stove and bring to a simmer. Stir in the cream and season to taste with salt and pepper. Taste to adjust seasonings. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with thyme leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.
Yield: 6 servings
- Sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes) can be found at farmers markets or at well-stocked grocery stores.