Creamy Jerusalem Artichoke and Carrot Soup Recipe
Hot artichoke soup for cold winter nights
The winter in The Limousin, France, is short, sharp and usually brightly cold with sunny blue skies, and freezing, starry nights. It is at this time that here at Les Trois Chenes Chambres d'Hotes, we start digging up the artichoke tubers in our potager, and roasting them or making them into soups for suppers spent in front of the wood burning stove.
Jerusalem artichokes are nutritious, easy to grow and delicious, so why are they not more popular?
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What is a Jerusalem Artichoke?
Not an artichoke from Jerusalem, so what is a Jerusalem Artichoke exactly? The Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus), or topinambur in French, is neither an artichoke nor is it from Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem artichoke is a member of the sunflower family and is a wonderful duel purpose plant as it bears lots of long-lasting yellow sunflower-like flowers and, throughout the winter months, the roots can be dug up and eaten.
At Les Trois Chenes, I plant them at the back of the flower border as well as in the vegetable garden. Here they tower up to seven or eight feet, far above my head, and form an excellent screen throughout the summer. The flowers are superb for cutting and you can soon have a lovely Van-Gogh-like vase full for the table. The only problem is that our dog Molly, starving hound that she is, diggs them up and eats the roots given half a chance.
Jerusalem artichokes are nutritious as well as delicious and are a source of potassium, iron, fiber, niacin, thiamine, phosphorus and copper: see Nutrition and You for more information.
They're easy to grow. In many ways too easy. It is said that once you have Jerusalem artichokes, you'll always have them and they do indeed grow like weeds. Plant them into fertile soil and wait for them to shoot up in late spring. They will come up so don't give up hope - be patient. They grow tall and have a tendency to flop over, so if you wish to avoid this, give them some support. Pick the flowers in late summer, then, when they have died back, cut the dead stalks down to ground level and dig out the larger tubers. I leave the small ones to grow on. Dig up periodically and replant in fertile soil, or add compost annually to keep the tubers nice and big.
- 500 g Carrots
- 700 g Jerusalem Artichoke
- 75 g butter
- 1 medium onion
- A handful of chopped bacon or lardons
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 small green chilli chopped and de-seeded
- 100 g cheese (Parmesan, Emmental, Cheddar or similar)
- 1.5 litres stock
- Salt and pepper
- Cream or creme fraîche to taste
Peel and chop the onion, and sauté with the bacon in the melted butter until soft. Add the garlic finely chopped.
Peel and chop the carrots. You can peel the artichoke roots, but I clean mine and leave the skin on. If you do this the colour of the soup will not be as bright, but on the other hand you'll not waste the peelings.
Chop the artichokes and put into cold, salted water to stop them discolouring.
Sauté the artichokes and carrots until soft
Add the carrots, artichokes and chilli to the onion and fry gently until soft. Add the cheese and stir. Then add the stock, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer gently until the carrots and artichokes are soft. Then puree until smooth.
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Serve the artichoke soup hot with a swirl of cream
Add a swirl of cream of spoon of creme fraîche and then decorate with parsley, coriander, lamb's lettuce or other green leaves. Serve piping hot with lots of warmed, crusty bread.
Are Jerusalem artichokes the perfect vegetable?
Jerusalem Artichoke sounds like the perfect vegetable doesn't it? So why is it so under-used? The only thing that I can think of is it's unfortunate tendency to produce wind! Gerard's Herbal, printed in 1621, quotes the English planter John Goodyer on the subject of Jerusalem artichokes:
"which way soever they be dressed and eaten, they stir and cause a filthy loathsome stinking wind within the body, thereby causing the belly to be pained and tormented, and are a meat more fit for swine than men."
This is not so far from the mark, except that when used in soup the effects are not too bad. Just make sure that if you eat artichokes, everyone else eats them too so that at least you won't be the only one!
We grow jerusalem artichokes in our vegetable garden at Les Trois Chenes
How to grow Jerusalem Artichokes
- botanical.com - A Modern Herbal | Artichoke, Jerusalem
Providing botanical, folk-lore and herbal information, plus organic herbs, and herbal products.
- Growing Jerusalem Artichokes
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© 2010 Les Trois Chenes
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