Friday, April 5, 2013

Jerusalem Artichokes Soup

I have been quite busy with my kids' spring breaks and English classes I have recently taken up, so although I still cook, if I write anything, it is mostly my homework, not recipes. Being so preoccupied with many things, I chose today to share a recipe for an easy soup, which I enjoyed very much a couple of weeks ago.

I was very curious already for some time to try Jerusalem artichokes, which, except for the name, have nothing to do with Jerusalem. Also known as sunchokes, unfortunately, they are not too popular and easily available in my area. So when the other day I saw them in my Balducci store, I greedily bought the whole pound without yet having an idea what to make from them. In any case, I knew that they tasted pretty good served just raw, sliced in salads.

Raw Jerusalem artichokes are crunchy. They have an earthy flavor, which comes out even more intensively when they are cooked. They have an interesting look, similar to ginger, and have many nutritional values. Just like the regular artichokes, they contain inulin, a type of dietary fiber, which is qualified as prebiotic and promotes growth of good, intestinal bacteria. Inulin kills the bad and support the good bacteria in the digestive track. Jerusalem artichokes are also extremely high in iron, in fact highest among all known vegetables. They are also very rich in potassium and copper.

There are many ideas how to serve these artichokes but probably the most popular are all kind of soups. Particularly one recipe intrigued me a lot. The soup was made from puréed artichokes and finished with milk. That made it very light and dietetic. But since I like to experiment, I served my portion with a dollop of crème fraîche. And it tastes even better that way, as long as you do not have to worry about the extra calories.

Jerusalem Artichokes Soup

1 lb Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and cut into smaller pieces,
1 medium onion, chopped,
1 garlic clove,
2 tbsp olive oil,
2 celery stalk, sliced,
4-5 cups vegetable stock,
1/2 cup milk,
crème fraîche or sour cream to serve,
salt and pepper to taste.

1. Heat the oil in a large heavy duty pot. Add the onion, garlic, celery and cook over the medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add Jerusalem artichokes and cook for another 5 minutes.

2. Pour vegetable stock into the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer a soup for about 25 minutes, until the artichokes become soft.

3. Purée the soup using an electric blender. Add milk and bring to boil.

Serve the soup with a dollop of crème fraîche and white bread.

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