Sunday, March 25, 2007

As soon as the ground thaws

I found this recipe for Sunflower Soup in the archives of KGI, Kitchen Gardeners International (link).
Link back to the original for a good article about Sunchokes, a.k.a. Jersalem Artichokes, a native sunflower with an edible root.
The photo is from Monticello's website. Thomas Jefferson noted the native plant.

My personal favorite use for Sunchokes is to braise/roast them along with other root veggies in the pan with a pot roast of beef. Sunchokes have a flavor all their own, and with pot roast gravy they are outstanding.

Sunflower Soup

Two types of Jerusalem Artichoke are available in France, one white and thin, the other round and pale pink. Either one will do but both discolour if exposed to air so cover with cold water or cook quickly after peeling.

Start off by peeling and chopping a large onion and sweating it gently in a covered cast iron pan with a knob of butter and a pinch of salt.
Meanwhile peel and chop a good handful of Jersusalem Artichokes and add them to the pan.
If you want a thicker soup, also add a diced medium-large potato.
Continue to gently cook the vegetables, without browning, for about 10 minutes.

Now add 1 liter of chicken stock (or vegetable stock, if you prefer).
A shake of white pepper, a small pinch of dried sage, bring the pan to the boil and then let the soup simmer for about half an hour.

Turn off the heat, allow the mixture to cool a little and then put it through the blender. Add a little water if you think the mixture is too thick. You should have a soup that is creamy in both colour and appearance.

Test the seasoning, add salt and white pepper if necessary, and reheat. Now you can stir in different finishing touches, for example: a soup spoon of double cream (highly recommended) or a tiny pinch of saffron.
This recipe makes 4 generous bowls of soup.
"Bon appetit!"
About the author, Gill Thompson, is a roving reporter for Kitchen Gardeners International. She lives in the Midi-Pyrénées region of France where she and her husband live in a charming sun-baked house with a lovely garden.

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