I’ve only used sunchokes, a.k.a. Jerusalem artichokes, a few times, but I’ve always liked their sweet, nutty flavor. So when I came across today’s recipe, I decided to try it. It’s a timely plus, on the cusp of St. Patrick’s Day, that the recipe is derived from a soup at a Dublin restaurant.
This sunchoke soup comes from The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. I’m pretty sure it’s not in the original version of this venerable cookbook, or I would have found it in my well-worn copy long ago and tried it out.
Jerusalem artichokes suffer a bit from misnomer: they are neither from Jerusalem, nor are they artichokes. (So if you substitute artichokes for sunchokes in your soup, you’ll end up with something totally different.) Their other name, sunchoke, is more accurate. Sunchokes are tuberous roots of a native North American sunflower. Sunchokes are full of vitamins A, C, and B complex, as well as iron, potassium, phosphorous and magnesium. Studies have shown that eating sunchokes can help control blood sugar.
They are perhaps best known for being high in inulin, adding probiotics to your gut. Nutritionists warn that some people may be somewhat sensitive to inulin, which is likely why these tubers are sometimes called “fartichokes.” This doesn’t negate their health benefits; it simply serves as a caution in case you’re one of those folks who’s sensitive to inulin. You can still serve this soup in polite company. It takes hours for the soup to travel from your mouth to your large intestine.
Anyway, this soup is quite excellent and can be made totally vegan. I ended up using butter for the sautéing simply because I was out of my cooking-grade olive oil. I substituted cashew milk for the cream in the recipe.
You can use veggie stock as the base of this soup. Since I was going to pressure cook 1/4 of navy beans anyway, I added extra water to the cooker and used 3 cups of the bean cooking water as stock. For the mushroom garnish, I used dried porcini mushrooms and strained off the cooking water and added a cup of it to the bean stock for depth. If you decide not to add the beans, use whatever type of stock you like.
Meatless Monday: Sunchoke Soup
- 1 pound Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes), scrubbed vigorously and chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 1 cup leeks, cleaned and sliced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter or a combination of the two
- 1/4 cooked white beans, optional
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- black pepper to taste
- 4 cups stock (Veggie stock or use the bean cooking water and water from rehydrating the mushrooms.)
- 1 cup cream (you can use cashew, almond or soy milk instead)
- 3/4 cup chopped mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
- fresh thyme leaves
Put it together:
- Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil or butter in a large soup pot. When the oil is hot, add the sunchokes and leeks. Sauté for several minutes.
- Add the beans, thyme, salt and pepper and sauté a few more minutes.
- Add the stock and cook everything for about 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook the mushrooms. Heat the tablespoon of olive oil or butter in a medium sauté pan. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper and sauté until the mushrooms have given up some of their liquid. Cover the pan and save for serving.
- Remove the soup pot from the heat, uncover, and stir a few times to let steam escape. When the soup has cooled down a bit, blend it in batches until it’s smooth but flecked with little bits of the sunchokes.
- Return the soup to the pot and stir in the cream. Reheat gently.
- Serve the soup with a few spoonfuls of the mushroom mixture and top with fresh thyme leaves.
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