Thursday, October 25, 2007

Sunflower Soup Casserole

Remember the sunflower soup I wrote about? Well, I was out in the herb garden trying to get a handle on the maintenance while the weather is still good, and upon yanking the Jerusalem artichokes that grew under the fence I was surprised by how big they are this year. So 2007 was a banner year for Jerusalem artichokes, who knew?

I got a bucket full in no time at all and brought them indoors, trimmed and washed them, and popped the smaller ones unpeeled into the pot of chicken stock I had simmering on the stove.
(Do you make chicken broth? Store broth is Nothing like homemade. Mine is herbed and so rich it gels when cooled. And now we are getting our chickens from the farmer's market and I am not going back to factory farmed chicken, there is that much difference in chickens too.)

Kayla ate a few with her pasta that night. Without tasting them Herb thought they were new potatoes and that she'd choke, but they were soft and easy for her to swallow whole (that child does not chew!) but the texture when boiled is really too soft for adult enjoyment. We are not fans of soft boiled vegetables.
So what to do?
Then I remembered the Sunflower Soup recipe and tried it.
It turned out pretty good with the distinctive flavor of Jerusalem artichoke, but it was smooth and bland and frankly, beige, like eating chicken gravy.
Well I say, when you have gravy, make noodles!

My recipe
I added leftover cooked 'whole wheat' linguine to the Sunflower Soup, added some leftover chicken and some frozen peas, and it was delicious.
When I began to think about it, it is healthy as well. There is no fat (as in the fat in gravy) because I cooked the onion in the broth, and the thickening was all done by the blenderizing of the J. artichokes.

J. artichokes, by the way, have some amazing health benefits having to do with their chemical makeup not reacting with the insulin our bodies produce. I remember reading about native Americans, who as a group have a high risk for diabetes, when put on a diet of indigenous foods, suddenly experiencing weight loss and blood sugar corrections. (You can Google it.) The Jerusalem artichoke is a North American native plant.

If you are interested and want to try to grow a few Jerusalem artichokes, find a friend who has a patch - they seem to be one of those enthusiastic plants that produce enough progeny to be readily shared... or do what I did when I didn't know anyone who grew them. Go to the veggie department of your grocery store and pick up a package when they show up, and plant them in a sunny spot with room to grow (up - they are about 8 feet tall). You will have enough to share in no time at all.

And if you don't like the J. artichokes, healthy food or not, their native sunflower blossoms will be good for your soul.

And speaking of good for your soul, here is another shot of one of Pat's Brandywine tomatoes, probably the last fresh tomato of the year for us... ain't she a beauty?

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