I am a newbie to the world of Sunchokes or Jerusalem Artichokes. I have tried them before at restaurants and I liked them, but I guess for some reason, I had never tried to make something with them in my kitchen. Well, until now. This year, I got a small sample of them from the farm, and that was enough to pique my curiosity. Oh! the possibilities.....
This is what I love most about cooking. Just trying out new gadgets, new ingredients, new methods -- this really makes me happy. J says I look like a mad scientist on happy drugs when I am in the kitchen.
In any case, I got my hands on a pound of these beautiful tubers and just had to try out this recipe for Sunchoke Soup from Thomas Keller. But I did tweak it a bit (mostly in the cream arena). You see, I had just returned from busting my A-- at the gym, and there was no way I was loading up this soup with 2 cups of cream! Not to mention, I just don't like that much cream in soup. It is way too cloying on the palate. I'd much rather save my cream quota for something else.
What resulted was a intensely earthy, absolutely luscious, velvety bowl of soup. Some crisped up Proscuitto on top and voila! Heaven in a bowl....
Loosely Adapted from Thomas Keller
Serves 4 generously
1 lb sunchokes
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp thinly sliced garlic
3/4 cup sliced shallots
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup half and half
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
4 slices proscuitto (for garnish)
1. Scrub the sunchokes well. Peel the rough knobby bits and thick skin. I left the tender parts unpeeled. Slice thinly and soak in cold water.
2. Heat the butter and oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallots. Sweat until softened (but do not allow them to brown). Drain the sunchokes and add them to the pan. Cover with chicken stock and simmer until the sunchokes are soft, 15 to 20 minutes.
3. In the meantime, if you are using the proscuitto, heat a cast iron skillet. Lay the slices on the hot skillet and cook till nicely browned and crisp. Crumble and set aside.
4. Add the half and half to the soup, return to slight boil, and remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper. Carefully ladle the soup into a blender and process until smooth and velvety. If you have a super-blender like I do (the Vitamix), then you should have a beautifully smooth soup on your hands. If not, enjoy as is, or if you want a very smooth texture, you can process through a sieve. Your choice.
5. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with more pepper and proscuitto.