Roots are essential for all of us, your family build them up for you day after day, they give you the sap to grow, the minerals from the home soil to fortify you and the strength necessary to let you fly;
Roots are magical, they contain the power of Mother Earth, they are used in potions and spells, in fairies’ decoctions, they are the basic ingredients of the people of the woods diet, the long legs of the trees supposed to defend the forest.
If I had to choose my favourite vegetable among the roots and tubers, the subject of this little culinary contest held by Labna, I would definitely go for the Jerusalem artichokes. They remind me of the magical mandrakes, tubers with the appearance of a newly born baby with wrinkled brown skin, met by Harry, Ron and Hermione during the Herbology class with Professor Sprout. The juice of the mandrake is precious to help those affected by the Petrification spell. The properties of Jerusalem artichoke, however, are somewhat different… they are rich in insulin and probiotic elements, useful for intestinal health, vitamin C, phosphorus, potassium and a good source of iron.
Jerusalem artichokes. When to buy them and how to store them.
You can buy and use Jerusalem artichokes in November, December, January and February, during the harvest season. When you buy them, roots should be free from soft spots, wrinkles or sprouting. You can store them for up to two weeks in the fridge. Jerusalem artichokes can be served with or without the skin, raw or cooked.
Some interesting facts about Jerusalem artichokes
Jerusalem artichokes are native to North America. They were brought to Europe in the early XVII century along with potatoes, but at the beginning, they were more widespread than these, thanks to their pleasant artichoke flavour. Then, slowly, the potatoes got the better of Jerusalem artichokes and their production decreased, except getting back to the fore in times of famine.
For a long time, Jerusalem artichokes were avoided because of an old wives’ tale: it was said that they were related to leprosy, because of the similarity of the tuber to the gnarled fingers of those who suffered from this scourge. Their English name, Jerusalem Artichokes, is derived from girasole, the Italian word for sunflower to which they are related.
Jerusalem artichoke soup
This Jerusalem artichoke soup is a delicate winter soup with a gentle artichoke flavour. It is so smooth and creamy you’ll have to convince your guests that this soup is actually vegan, made without cream or butter. Top it with Jerusalem artichoke chips for a nice crunch, and a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper.
Jerusalem artichoke soup
- ½ white onion, peeled and minced
- 500 grams Jerusalem artichokes
- 200 grams potatoes, peeled and diced
- 3 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil, plus more for frying the Jerusalem artichoke chips
- 600 ml warm water
- Fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Fresh calamint leaves
- Rinse the Jerusalem artichokes under running water, scrubbing them to remove all traces of dirt. Set two small Jerusalem artichokes aside: you will need them afterwards to garnish the soup. Cut the tubers into small cubes, about 1 cm per side.
- In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, heat the olive oil and add the minced onion, season with a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes.
- Add the Jerusalem artichokes and the potatoes, stir and cook for a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then pour in hot water to cover the Jerusalem artichokes.
- Simmer on low heat for about 25 minutes, until the Jerusalem artichokes are so soft that can be easily mashed with a fork.
- Purée the Jerusalem artichokes until smooth and creamy. Adjust the thickness of the soup according to your taste. If you want it more liquid, add more water, then return the saucepan to the stove and simmer for a few minutes, to blend all the flavours.
- Now prepare the Jerusalem artichokes to garnish the soup. Slice the Jerusalem artichokes into 2mm thick slices, then fry them in olive oil until golden brown. Once you have finished with the Jerusalem artichoke chips, fry in the same oil some calamint leaves just for a few seconds, until crisp.
- Serve the Jerusalem artichoke soup into single serving bowls, topped with the fried Jerusalem artichoke chips and the fried calamint, and dressed with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately.
More winter soups from the blog archive
- Artichoke soup. Artichokes are cooked with potatoes and leeks and half a cup of chicken broth, something I made some time ago and stored in the freezer. The soup can be served with more sautéed artichokes and golden bread croutons cooked with savory, or even with some toasted hazelnuts and almonds if you want to keep the soup gluten-free.
- Bavarian bread soup. Brotsuppe is a Bavarian bread soup, made with stale brown bread, meat stock, eggs, cream, and topped with fried bread croutons.
- Cauliflower and cannellini soup. This soup is thick, warming, consoling, a good way to use your leftover beans and, mostly, a meal on its own.