SUNCHOKE AND CAULIFLOWER SOUP
Sunchokes, also called Jerusalem artichokes (even though they have nothing to do with either Jerusalem or artichokes), are probably my favorite vegetable out there. They're roots of sunflowers and look knobby and tuberous like ginger. Eaten raw, they're nutty and crunchy and super delicious, crispy like a water chestnut with a mild sweet nutty flavor. I love slicing them thin with a mandolin into salads like you would radishes. But when roasted, their natural sugars come out and caramelize beautifully, leaving the inside almost mushy and sweet like a banana.
One of my favorite ways to cook sunchokes is to mash up or puree it with other root vegetables like potatoes or celery root. With those root vegetables, you could do a number of different combinations. Root puree under a good fish like grilled trout or a heartier stew like french style slow braised short rib in wine is where it’s at. Spoon some of its juices around a root veg puree and it's practically heaven. Here, we're doing soup, this would be a great teaser with some grilled bread, I'm just sayin.
So rather than boiling the flavor out of them, you simmer sunchokes and cauliflower in broth and milk, almost like you’re steaming them. Cauliflower, which is milder when cooked, adds just enough sass without overpowering the sunchokes.
6 oz sunchokes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 of cauliflower cut into 1 inch florets
2 celery ribs, minced
1 onion, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups chicken stock (or veggie stock)
3/4 cup whole milk
1 garlic clove, minced
2/3 sprigs of thyme
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 lemon (optional)
In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add celery, onion, salt + pepper and cook under low heat until softened, about 6 mins.
Add the stock and milk and bring to a a boil. Simmer under low heat until all vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove your thyme sprigs and discard.
Working in batches with a blender or food processor, blend the mixture until it is smooth. Return to the saucepan. Taste and add salt/pepper to your liking and more broth if it needs thinning. I also love to zest a half a lemon into it which cuts it nicely.
Serve immediately or warmed up. To add some more flavor, feel free to crumble turkey bacon over top, or adding micro green like watercress, or roast pepitas or pine nuts. I love spooning some thyme oil (recipe here) over top as a finishing touch. Enjoy!