I'd never even held a sunchoke in my hands until I scooped up a pound or so last weekend at my brand new local co-op, The Dill Pickle Food Co-op (Chicagoans take note, it's in Logan Square). The tuber is slightly purple and shaped much like a fingerling potato. But that certainly didn't mean I knew what the hell to do with them.
My intense search yielded a staggeringly few choices beyond boring baked ones and blended soups. Had I stocked up on the wrong spud?
Turns out they can also be called Jerusalem Artichokes, and recipes are much easier to find when you search under that moniker. But I'll just be contrary, and say I prefer the snappier sunchoke. Anyway, they come out of the pot like a cross between a Yukon gold and a yucca, which is not a bad place to be.
Very tender and slightly creamy, they give the soup a silky quality that works well in with this recipe from the Food Network. The creamy soup is balanced by a pinch of saffron and a shot of lemon, which help brighten up this cold weather meal.
- 2 onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 1/2 pounds sunchokes, peeled and quartered
- 4 cups chicken broth
- Salt and pepper
- 10 almonds
- 2 tablespoons water
- Pinch of saffron
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 tablespoons parsley, minced
Pour the olive oil into a large dutch oven or heavy pot with a lid. Turn heat to low and add the onions. Cover the pot and cook for 20 minutes, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes or so.
Remove the cover, turn the heat to medium and toss in the garlic and the sunchokes. Cook for 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Then pour in the chicken broth and turn the heat to high. Sprinkle with a pinch of a salt and pepper. When just about to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the almonds to a bowl and then pour the boiling water on top. Let sit for 1 minute, then drain, and rinse under cold water. Dry them off and then grind them up in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Mix them with the water.
Whisk the water and almond paste into the soup. Add the pinch of saffron, the lemon juice, and the parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.