Saturday, March 2, 2013

Jerusalem Artichoke (Sunchoke) Soup

If you've never had jerusalem artichokes, this is a good introduction to them. They have a sweet, nutty flavor well complemented by roasting them with red onion and lots of garlic, and garnished with scallions or chives. When I saw them at the farmer's market this morning, they looked so inviting I couldn't resist getting some.

However, it is only right to warn you: the inulin in them doesn't break down in our digestive tract, and can cause flatulence. If you're especially sensitive this way, you'd be better off making something like roasted potato shallot soup. I'm not trying to scare you off, but I also don't want you to be in gastric distress!  Serves 3-4 (about 3/4 cup per person)

1 lb small jerusalem artichokes, rooty tips cut off, well washed and dried
5 medium cloves garlic, skins on
1/2 medium red onion, cut in half with root end intact
1.5 c homemade chicken stock
5 sprigs thyme
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
2-3 TB whole coconut milk
4 TB minced scallions or chives (it really needs this, so don't omit)

Preheat oven to 375*F

Put the chokes, onion and garlic on a half sheet; leave the skins on the garlic so it doesn't burn and the root end on the onion so it doesn't separate and burn. Toss with about 3 TB EVOO and sprinkle liberally with salt. Roast for about 20 minutes, turn and roast another 10-15 minutes until all the vegetables are soft and cooked through.

Use some of the chicken stock to help get all the roasted bits off the half sheet and pour into a medium saucepan. There will be about a TB of EVOO and some salt on the sheet, which we want to include.

Add the rest of the stock and thyme sprigs, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and let the thyme sit and steep. While it's steeping, remove the flesh from the chokes by squeezing it out with your fingers, or use a paring knife to scrape it from the skin. I left a few pieces of caramelized skin in, for more flavor. Squeeze out the garlic as well, and trim off the root end of the onions.

Remove the thyme springs and discard. Add in all the veg, and use an immersion blender, food processor, or blender to process the veg and stock to a smooth consistency. Add the coconut milk and heat to a full simmer. Taste for salt and add the pepper. Garnish with lots of minced scallion or chives and serve.

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