Last Sunday at the Dupont Farmers Market, I picked up a carton of sunchokes, not to be confused with artichokes. The producer at Next Step Farm where I purchased them told me that sunchokes don’t truly need to be peeled and that they could just be scrubbed, seasoned and roasted in the oven. Sounded good.
But, with me being a soup geek, I decided to turn them into a creamy soup since I had all of the other ingredients on hand; shallot, chicken stock, cream and herbs. The soup came together easily and I have found a new favorite. Sunchokes taste like the similarly named artichoke. They are slightly sweet, a bit tangy, and nutty.
Sunchokes, also called Jerusalem Artichokes (They’re not from Jerusalem, and they’re not artichokes. Discuss), are little tubers which resemble fresh ginger. These New World tubers have waxed and waned in popularity, and now seem to be making a comeback as a change to the traditional potato for starch. Diabetics often use sunchokes as a substitite for potatoes because the sunchoke contains inulin; which is not absorbed by the body. Inulin also feeds the helpful bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, therefore, aiding in digestion.
Sunchokes need to be stored in a cool dry place. I stored mine, as advised, in a plastic bag with a paper towel to absorb moisture. Once exposed to the air, sunchokes oxidize quickly and discolor. When preparing sunchokes for cooking, soak them in acidic water (squeeze a lemon) to avoid discoloration.
Puree of Sunchoke Soup
- 1 lb. sunchokes
- 1 large shallot, diced
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- salt and pepper
- white truffle oil (optional)
Prepare sunchokes by scrubbing and peeling off any “eye’s” are dark blemishes. Slice into 1 inch pieces.
Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add shallot and saute for 4-5 minutes until they begin to soften and become transluscent. Add sunchokes and stir. Add thyme, a pinch of salt and several grinds of black pepper. Cook for 5 minutes. Stir frequently.
Add chicken stock and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to maintain a low simmer. Cover and cook for 20-30 minutes, until sunchokes are easily pierced with a fork.
Remove bay leaf. Puree mixture in batches using a blender, or in the pot using a stick blender. Blend until smooth. You can choose to strain the soup with a fine mesh/chinois at this point. I left my soup a bit rustic.
Return soup to pot and add cream. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Serve garnished with a drizzle of white truffle oil (optional).