Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sunchoke Soup

Sunchokes can vary in color from pale brown to white, red or
purple (this is the first time I've had ones that weren't white)

Sunchoke - what is a sunchoke?  Would it help if I told you it was the same thing as a Jerusalem artichoke?  No?  I didn't really think so.

They ARE the same thing but if you've never heard of one you've likely never heard of the other. They are actually a root vegetable or tuber that are native to North America and were cultivated by Native Americans long before the Europeans arrived here. They come from a plant that looks very similar (and is related) to the sunflowers we're all used to seeing - and no, even though they're also called a Jerusalem artichoke they aren't from Jerusalem nor are they related to an artichoke.

Now that that's out of the way, what DO they taste like? Well, they LOOK kind of like a knobby pink-skinned ginger root and have a sweet, nutty flavor, reminiscent of water chestnut, though MUCH better than a water chestnut. Oh, and they make one of the best soups I've ever had, there's that part, too.

I first heard of them about ten years ago when one of our local stores used to sell a lot of Melissa's brand products. They had these little bags of them sitting there and I saw them and couldn't figure out what they were. I read the label and decided I had to try them. That started my love affair. When the store stopped carrying them, I went for several years without seeing them. Then about three years ago I ran across them again at a farmer's market in Millerton, NY and have gone back every fall since just to pick up more. I found them again at the winter farmer's market in Coventry about a month ago and this past weekend found them at the farmer's market up in Northampton (if you couldn't tell, we like going to farmer's markets!). I even bought ten pounds last year from a guy on eBay up in Oregon! I guess I'm trying to say that though they're not EASY to find, it's easier than it used to be - and it's well worth the time!

Now, on to the recipe.

Peeled sunchokes

  • 3 shallots - peeled and chopped (or if you're out of shallots like I was this time, try using a large onion instead)
  • 3 cloves - roasted garlic chopped 
  • 2 ribs celery - medium dice 
  • 2 pounds sunflower chokes - peeled and medium diced (just like potatoes, you do NOT have to peel sunchokes as long as they are scrubbed well so if you prefer not to peel them, by all means, don't)
  • 1 quart chicken stock 
  • 1 pint heavy cream 
    Ingredients ready to go in the pan
  • 1 tbsp thyme - chopped (fresh is best but if you don't have it on hand, dried will work just fine)
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 1 tsp black pepper 
  • 2 tsp canola oil

    Diced sunchokes - they actually look a lot like potatoes at this point


  1. In a saucepot add oil and shallots (or onions), garlic, and celery and sauté for 2 minutes
  2. Add sunchokes and sauté for 3 minutes
    Sunchokes, celery, shallots and garlic being sautéed
  3. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil
    With added chicken stock
  4. Reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes or until sunchokes are soft 
  5. Add fresh thyme and blend with a hand blender until completely smooth (alternately, you can pour a small amount at a time into a blender and puree there, repeating as necessary until it's completely blended) 
    Using a hand blender to puree the soup
  6. On low heat, blend in heavy cream and return to a boil
    Add the cream and blend
  7. Season with salt and pepper and serve (add more to taste as needed - and if you use homemade chicken stock like I do you will probably need additional salt)
  8. Serve hot and enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Looks like a fantastic dish! Very well done I enjoyed reading it, great pictures too!