The mornings this week have been frosty and light filled. I wake to the sound of our old furnace rumble on and force warm air through the single upstairs vent. It’s in the center of the hallway and the only way for any room to actually heat up is by keeping the bedroom door wide open. I linger longer in bed, sometimes for an hour, wide awake watching the sun rise. Other times I’m fully engrossed in Harry Potter. Back in October I decided I needed some light reading through the next couple months and am going to read every book again and a few of the last ones for the first time. I’ve currently just started the 5th book.
If ever there are days to have soup, now is the season. It started not to long ago, but now I find it’s almost all I want to eat, even if only to wrap my always cold hands around the bowl. This soup is a simple one. It doesn’t have a long ingredient list or many complicated ways in which you need to roast, steam, brown, or perfectly chop anything before it goes into the pot. It has not much more than leeks and jerusalem artichokes. (aka sunchokes) It’s a soup that made me realize the exact kind of cook and eater I am and probably always have been (if I’m being honest) and it’s that I like my food simple. Because isn’t that the best kind of food? A challenge is always something that you can be fully proud of, but at the end of the day I want something familiar, that may or may not take a little time to cook, and this was perfect for that.
Jerusalem artichokes are nubby little (or large) things related to sunflowers. I threw a couple plants into a very sunny patch of our yard and watched them shoot up from the ground with sturdy stems and large leaves in no time at all. Once Fall came they finally burst out school bus yellow flowers and just earlier this month I finally harvested them.
In my excitement of un-earthing what lay below the soil level, I made the mistake of pulling them all up in one go. I literally have pounds of these to eat! Apparently I could have left some in the ground, only taking what I need. Instead, I’ve built a sort of make-shift storage spot for them, but unlike potatoes, they still won’t hold on for too long. This soup used up a pound, but I’ll probably be needing to make a few more batches of it and freezing it if I want to make sure they don’t go to waste.
Jerusalem Artichoke Soup / serves 4-6
Adapted from Tender
The recipe originally calls for a sort of spinach puree to finish off the soup at the end. Sounds gorgeous and like a nice way to add in more veggies, but my gag reflexes (sorry) for well cooked spinach seem to still be a problem, so I skipped this step and added a bit of yogurt instead. This soup can easily be made vegan, just swap out the butter with olive oil and possibly a vegan yogurt.
2 large leeks
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 lb. Jerusalem artichokes
2 bay leaves
4 cups water or vegetable stock
plain yogurt, to serve (optional)
Slice the leeks in half down the middle and wash thoroughly. Then slice the white and pale green parts into thin half circles. Melt the butter or warm the olive oil over medium-low heat and add the leeks. Cover and let soften for about 15 to 20 minutes. You don’t really want them to brown at all, just become tender.
Rinse and scrub the artichokes thoroughly. Coarsely chop them into about 1 to 1/2-inch pieces and add them to the leeks. Continue cooking for several minutes, then add in the bay leaves and vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Decrease heat, cover, and let simmer for about 25-30 minutes or until the artichokes are soft enough to fall apart when pushed into the side of the pot.
In increments, carefully transfer the soup into a blender and blend until smooth. I was actually able to use my immersion blender and skip the transferring step, just make sure your artichokes are very tender. Season with salt and pepper and serve with a bit of plain yogurt if desired.