This soup uses Jerusalem artichokes, also known as sunchokes, rather than potatoes, to bulk it up and add texture. The sunchokes have a flavor that mirrors the sweetness of the artichoke, and a nuttiness that provides depth. We found the Monterey Farms Artihearts at Whole Foods Market and fell in love with their great flavor.
1 large or two medium artichokes
1/4 C olive oil
1 C chopped onion
2 T chopped garlic
8 oz Jerusalem artichokes, also called Sunchokes, chopped
6 oz artichoke hearts (Monterey Farms Artihearts, available at Whole Foods market) or one can artichoke hearts
1 t nutmeg
1/4 t pepper flakes (optional)
reserved artichoke boiling water
3 C vegetable stock
1-2 C water (as needed)
1 t salt
½ t pepper
1 T lemon juice (or more, as needed)
½ C heavy cream (may substitute half & half)
Prepare and cook artichokes: Trim base, reserving stem. With a sharp knife, cut one inch off the top of the artichoke; using scissors, snip off tops of each leaf; snip off tough bottom leaves. Place prepared artichokes into a pan and add three cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook 20 minutes. Turn off heat and let the artichokes sit for another 10 minutes. Remove artichokes, turn upside down into a bowl and let cool.
Prepare stems: Peel outer fibrous skin and cut stems into chunks. Reserve.
Prepare artichokes for soup: Once artichokes are cool, remove all the leaves until you get to the choke. Pull off the cluster of leaves that form the choke, releasing the bottom. Using a spoon, clean out and discard the hairy crown from the heart. Reach into the choke and remove the interior leaves. Lay the choke on its side and slice off the soft flesh from the base of the choke. Discard the upper part of the choke. Reserve artichoke bottom and artichoke meat in a small bowl. Using a spoon, scrape leaves of the edible flesh, from the bottom to the mid-section of each leaf. Add to the bowl of artichoke meat. Discard scraped leaves.
Prepare the soup: In a large pot, heat olive oil; when hot, add onions and cook until translucent, about four minutes; add garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, reserved artichoke stems, artichoke flesh and bottoms, artichoke hearts and seasonings. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes until Jerusalem artichokes and artichoke stem meat are soft. Add reserved artichoke cooking liquid and stock. Continue cooking 15 minutes until all the vegetable are soft, adding water needed. Remove from heat and let the soup cool slightly. Puree, using an immersion blender or a food processor. Adjust the consistency of the soup, using water as needed. Add 1 T lemon juice. Taste for seasoning, adding salt, pepper and lemon juice as needed. The flavor should be delicate and dominantly artichoke. Pour the soup through a strainer (optional) to achieve a smooth, velvety soup. Add cream. Mix well and adjust seasoning. Refrigerate for up to four days. The soup gets better as it ages. Serve hot or chilled.