I spotted this recipe on Phil's blog "As Strong as Soup" a good while ago. Finding myself in front of a box of Jerusalem artichokes in SuperU recently, and with guests coming for dinner, I felt compelled to buy them and make it. I don’t think I have ever seen them for sale in an English supermarket.
They are peculiar looking things with a reddish brown knobbly skin (but then what vegetable doesn’t look peculiar if you are not familiar with it). They have a texture similar to a turnip and discolour rapidly once peeled so dropping them into water with a splash of lemon juice in it helps to stop that if necessary.
Nick was very sceptical when I announced that I had bought some. He has less than fond memories of some of the meals served up when he was a child. He had an unhappy recollection of what his mother made with a box of Jerusalem artichokes that his father either won in a raffle or got for sixpence at an auction. He is not sure which but it was not a popular vegetable with the family!
As Phil explains, the soup has nothing whatsoever to do with Palestine, a name given to it because of the belief that the artichokes come from Jerusalem, which they don't. I read somewhere else that the misunderstanding arose because the plants look like sunflowers and the Italian word for sunflower is "girasole". They taste nothing at all like artichokes either!
While in the supermarket I tried to recall Phil's recipe and forgot that it also included toasted hazelnuts. Living out in the sticks in the middle of France, popping to the nearest shop that might or might not have any is a one hour round trip and in any case nuts are limited on my diet so I decided it would be ok to leave them out.
The next dilemma was whether or not to make it in the soup maker. This machine has been my kitchen friend in my weight loss plan and I’ve had very few disappointments with it. Some soups have turned out a bit thicker or thinner than expected and some a bit bland. The texture can be adjusted by including more or fewer potatoes in the ingredients and the risk of blandness by using the right stock. Jerusalem artichokes have a strong, distinctive flavour so I didn’t think there was any risk of this soup being bland. The worry was that I had never used either milk or rice in the machine before. However I was running out of time to look up whether or not they might not work so I decided to go for it and it worked fine.
However I did find a small burnt patch in the bottom of the machine when I washed it out. This has happened very occasionally with other soups and is easily remedied by putting a dishwasher tablet or powder in the machine with a small quantity of water and leaving it to stand until the tablet dissolves. The burn mark then wipes away effortlessly leaving a pristine shiny machine.
The soup was delicious. A glorious colour, just the right thickness and a hit with everyone, including Nick. I had adapted Phil's recipe for the soup maker but you can see his original post here.
Incidentally, the French word for Jerusalem artichokes is the marvellous "topinambour".
2 medium carrots
450g Jerusalem artichokes
1 medium potato
1 heaped tablespoon of basmati or long grain rice, rinsed well
300ml vegetable stock, home made or from a stock pot or cube
Peel and prepare the veg as usual and add to the machine.
Add the rice, milk, stock, salt and pepper and enough water to fill to the top line. Give it all a good stir (this may prevent the burning). White pepper (canteen pepper) is recommended so that the soup retains its beautiful colour.
Cook on smooth. Check and adjust the seasoning to taste before serving.
Makes 4 generous portions.
I'm so glad that it's not just me that makes this lovely soup. Quite honestly, I look forward to getting my hands on Jerusalem artichokes every year just to make this soup or some variant of it. You won't find hazelnuts in traditional versions of this soup and they really aren't essential but topinambour et noisette was one of Escoffier's great combinations and it does enhance the nuttiness of the artichokes.ReplyDelete
Some years ago I listened to a French waiter who spoke almost no English trying to explain what topinambour were to an English tourist who spoke almost no French. I think it's an exchange I'll never forget. I tried to help and somehow made the situation much, much worse.