Monday, April 30, 2012

Sunchoke Soup

79: Spring Treat Share #3

Adam and I were both out of town for our CSA spring share #2 (we had a friend pick it up and enjoy it instead) but here's #3 which I picked up on Wednesday. Check it: spinach, asparagus, eggs, radishes, shallots, scallions, chives, salad mix, sunchokes and yogurt!

(BTW, should you find yourself with an extra quart of yogurt around, perhaps because you bought one two days before your CSA pickup, this cake is a great way to use up a cup of it.)

84: Sunchoke Soup

Asparagus was a great reason to practice my hollandaise, shallots went into a pot of beans and some chicken stock, and I've been sprinkling chives on anything that finds its way into a bowl. Spinach and salad greens are easy enough to find uses for, and we go through eggs like nobody's business, but I was a little puzzled by the sunchokes. We got a few last year that we sauteed and put it an omelet, but with most of a pound kicking around I wanted to do something that would better show off their unique flavor.

Sunchokes, dirty

Lucky for me, I remembered Olga's soup! I scrubbed the dirt off the little 'chokes and got to work.

Sunchokes, scrubbed

I made quite a few changes based on what I had around, and I was really pleased with the results. I love foods that taste creamy without any cream, and the delicate sunchoke flavor comes through brilliantly. If you happen across these weird little tubers, pick up a pound and make some soup.

Simmer simmer

Sunchoke Soup with Caramelized Onions
adapted from Sassy Radish
serves 4

To my palate, artichokes taste expensive... probably because I know how much paring and peeling and dunking in lemon (that is, work) goes into harvesting the hearts! But sunchokes are so much easier to work with - just scrub and simmer - and the flavor is, if anything, even more refined. I can just imagine this soup passed through a fine sieve or tamis to filter out the skins and starchy bits, maybe with a little sweet butter blended in to bump this into fancy-dinner-party territory. 

3 cloves garlic, sliced or roughly chopped
scant 1 tsp fresh marjoram, chopped
3 Tbsp plus 2 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 lb sunchokes, scrubbed very well (a generous pint, if you're not weighing)
1/2 lb (about 2 baseball sized) potatoes (yukon gold or red bliss), peeled, cut in 1 inch chunks
4 cups chicken stock (or use vegetable stock for a vegetarian version)
salt and pepper
2 large yellow onions, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 a lemon, juice only
1 tsp cider vinegar
extra virgin olive oil, to garnish
chopped chives, to garnish

Heat 3 Tbsp olive oil (I don't like to use extra virgin for this, why spend the money on flavors that are just going to disappear when heated?) in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and marjoram and a pinch of salt and sweat for a couple of minutes until it smells good. Add the sunchokes and potatoes and chicken stock, plus another pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Bring up to a low boil over high heat, then reduce to medium low and cover the pot. Simmer for an hour or until the potatoes and sunchokes are falling apart.

Meanwhile, caramelize the onions. Heat a medium skillet (I love my cast iron skillet for this) over medium low heat and add 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add the onions, stir to coat them with oil and then let them cook slowly, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until evenly browned and sweet.

Use an immersion blender to puree the soup, then adjust the seasoning. You'll need several more big pinches of salt, plus the lemon juice and vinegar. You could also use just lemon juice, but I like the different notes of two acids.

Pile some onions in a bowl and ladle the soup around them, then garnish with some really good extra virgin olive oil and chopped chives.

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