Sometimes I find something that I’ve not eaten a lot of before — or ever — as in the case of the topinambour, aka Jerusalem artichoke, or sunchoke, as it’s also called in the U.S., and I can’t stop coming up with new ideas. Earlier this year, I made a tart with the artichokey-tasting stalk, the cardon, and as much as I liked it and its subtle artichoke taste, I must admit that I love this oddball-looking tuber even more.
The texture is potato-like, and the flavor is much more like that of an artichoke. Once you manage to peel the pink skin off, and chop it into manageable pieces, it’s an easy drizzle with oil, salt and pepper and into the oven, just as you would potatoes or any other root vegetable.
I liked the idea of mixing this with cauliflower and blending it into a soup, because I’m always looking for new and interesting soups, since they seem to be the only thing that’ll warm me to my toes in this frigid weather, and two, they’re super-easy to make. This one’s no exception. Oh, and there’s yet a third reason — I’m trying to get X to eat more veggies that he claims that he doesn’t like (such as choufleur, one of my favorites), so I simply hide them by puréeing them in a soup.
I’m sneaky that way.
The earthy color of this soup is due to the roasted bits of the veggies, which also imparts a deeper flavor than what you’d otherwise have (if you simply steamed them, for example). I didn’t want to do too much to get in the way of the nutty artichoke-ness, so I simply added a bit of fresh thyme and some roasted hazelnuts at the end.
X still claims to dislike cauliflower, but he loves this soup.
Cauliflower-Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Thyme
Makes 4 servings
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 pounds Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium shallot, chopped
3-4 sprigs thyme, leaves removed, plus more for garnish (optional)
4 cups chicken stock or water (you may need a bit more; if you do, simply add until veggies are covered by 1-inch of stock or water)
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
hazelnuts, roasted and roughly chopped, for garnish (optional)
1. Put the cauliflower florets on a parchment-lined (or foil – I just do this so clean-up is easier) cookie sheet (or two if you need more room) and drizzle the florets with the 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and lightly sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Slide into the oven until the florets begin to brown, about 15 minutes. Once the florets brown, pull them out of the oven and turn them over, so the other side gets brown, too. This will take about 10 more minutes. When browned on both sides, remove from the oven.
2. On another parchment-lined cookie sheet, spread out the Jerusalem artichokes, drizzle with the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper and slide into the oven. Watch carefully, and flip these over to the other side once they begin to brown, which will take about 15 minutes. When cooked, remove from oven.
3. In a large stockpot, put the last tablespoon of olive oil and the chopped shallots, and turn the heat on medium. Let the shallots cook until they’re translucent – this will only take 5-10 minutes. Now add the cauliflower, Jerusalem artichokes, thyme, and chicken stock or water, and sea salt and pepper. Let cook for about 20 minutes, then pureée with a stick blender or use your blender. Taste for seasonings. Serve with toasted hazelnuts and a few fresh thyme leaves.