My favourite vegetable is unfortunately only available for a couple of months of the year.
Most people have never heard of them before and it doesn’t help that they have a rather misleading name.
Jerusalem artichokes aren’t actually related to globe artichokes and really – from an appearance point of view – that fact is rather obvious (it’s like saying kittens and ponies are related because they’re both cute and have four legs).
Apparently the misnomer is due to a bungled historic translation of Italian and with their knobbly, tuber-like exterior you’d even be forgiven for thinking they’re related to ginger.
They have a rich, nutty and garlicky flavor, with a texture similar to potatoes.
And like potatoes, they’re wonderful roasted in the oven with garlic cloves and sage, or simply steamed and served with butter.
But to my great disappointment, Jerusalem artichokes are only available for a couple of months during the winter period and consequently, I tend each as much as I can get my hands on.
This is the first time I’ve made soup with them and the flavour that develops from the medley of sweet caramelised leeks, garlic and artichokes is divine.
The olive oil crackers are worth giving a shot too – they’re so easy to make and provide a crunchy, textural element to the silky soup. Just make sure to roll them out wafer-thin so that they can crisp up nicely in the oven.
jerusalem artichoke soup with olive oil crackers
adapted from katie quinn davies‘ recipe, august 2013 issue of delicious. magazine
50g butter 2 leeks, washed and trimmed, white parts reserved and sliced 1 onion, chopped 2 celery stalks, chopped 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1.2kg jeruselum artichokes, peeled and roughly chopped small handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped (plus extra for serving) 2L (8 cups) vegetable stock ½ cup thickened cream 50g goat’s curd lemon-infused olive oil, for drizzling
olive oil crackers 1 ⅓ cups plain flour ⅓ cups wholemeal spelt flour ½ cup warm water pinch of salt 1 tsp baking powder 3 tbsp olive oil (plus extra for brushing) 2 tsp cumin seeds 2 tsp fennel seeds
For the olive oil crackers, combine the flours, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
Add the olive oil and water. Stir to combine, bringing together the wet and dry ingredients with one hand. Knead lightly to form a smooth dough, pat into a disk and cover in cling wrap. Refrigerate, allowing the dough to rest for approximately one hour.
Meanwhile, combine the cumin and fennel seeds in a bowl and set aside.
Preheat your oven to 220°C (425°F).
Divide the dough into two pieces and roll out each piece on a floured surface to 2mm thick. Cut the dough into rough squares or triangles and transfer to tray lined with baking paper.
Brush the pieces with olive oil, scatter with the mixed seeds and season to taste. Bake in batches until the crackers are golden and crisp, about 6 – 7 minutes. Once cooked, transfer them to a wire rack to cool.
For the soup, melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat and add the onion, celery and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, for 10 – 15 minutes until softened.
Add the artichokes, parsley and vegetable stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for 20 minutes until tender. Remove from the heat and cool before transferring to a blender. Blitz in batches until you have a smooth purée.
Return the soup to a large saucepan over medium heat. Season to taste and warm through. Just before serving, remove from the heat and stir through the cream.
Divide the soup among serving bowls, top with dollops of goat’s curd, chopped parsley and drizzle with olive oil.