So what do you do with that almost, but not quite forgotten vegetable, Jerusalem Artichokes or Sunchokes, freshly dug from the garden?
I have read that you can eat it raw, but have not tried that yet – except for a sliver to taste: it’s crunchy and mildly sweet , like a good young turnip, not as crunchy as a a water chestnut, and with a taste of its own, vaguely nutty. El mentioned that she has eaten it in a gratin (and although she likes it, it does not like her), Colleen turns it into a creamy sunchocke soup, and Hank pickles it to avoid the noisy side effects (See Note) that sunchokes have on some people. While the pickle recipe looks tempting, reminding me of the Indian-style pickles “Zachards” that I was eating when growing up, it takes more time to make than the soup (especially as you must let it age two weeks). So soup it was I made. Many sources suggest sunchokes be used like potatoes, so I decided to adapt my leek & potato soup to become Leek and Sunchoke Soup.
I am convinced that one of the reasons sunchokes are not that popular is that it’s tough to peel given all the little knobs and crevices of the tubers. I could find no reason – but aesthetic – to peel them: like potatoes, apples, pears etc, sunchoke skin is edible. My sunchokes are organic, I need no more peel them than I peel organic potatoes, just scrub them well.
Once the sunchokes were turned into soup, I could indeed taste the “artichoke” in Jerusalem Artichoke, although with none of the bitterness undertone that artichokes often have. Anyway…. on to the recipe for Leek and Sunchoke Soup (which I am sending to Debi at kahakaikitchen for this week-end soup round-up of Souper Sunday; I wonder if they have sunchokes in Hawai?)
Leek and Sunchoke Soup
Yields about 2 to 2 1/2 quarts
- 1 pound leeks, roots and very dark green parts trimmed *
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 1 pound sunchokes, scrubbed clean of dirt – break the knobs of to wash if necessary -
- 1 quart good-quality chicken stock
- 2 cups whole milk, or more to thin to desired consistency
- Salt, pepper
- Slice, wash and drain the leeks.
- Heat a Dutch oven on medium heat, add the oil, add the leeks, lower the heat and cook them slowly, stirring occasionally, making them “sweat”. They should not color at all, just become limp. If they start to color, lower the heat more, stir and add a little oil. Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, scrub your sunchokes well, making sure to remove any grit or dirt that may be trapped between the knobs, and cut them up in even chunks (the smaller the chunks, the faster they’ll cook).
- Add the sunchokes to the leeks. Add the broth. Bring to boil. Cover, and lower the heat. Simmer until the chokes. are tender 15 to 20 minutes.
- Puree the soup using an immersion blender, or transfer to a blender in small batches to avoid hot overspill, and process until smooth. Use milk as necessary to puree. Add back to the pan, add the rest of the milk. Taste, add salt & pepper to taste, and cooked until warmed to the desired temperature.
- Ladle into bowl. Grind some pepper and sprinkle your favorite herb on top.
* save them for when you make stock; they freeze fine!
Locavore Log: sunchokes from the garden; homemade broth made with chicken from Belle Meade; milk and butter from a regionally local dairy, Trickling Springs Creamery.
For the Recipe Only in printable form, click HERE
Note: Apologies to the delicate minds (noses?) out there, but these things must be mentioned since so many sources claim sunchokes cause flatulence (probably another reason why the vegetable is not more popular)! I will say that we did not notice any particular gas production following the ingestion of the soup – and I must admit I was somewhat a little ambivalent about cooking the sunchokes for that very same reason. Apparently not everybody is similarly cursed, and some preparation might mitigate gaseous production. No way to know until you try…