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Monday, November 18, 2013

Creamy Sunchoke Soup

A few years ago I had some sunchokes in a CSA. I had never cooked with them before and wasn't really sure what to do with them. We had been getting behind with our CSA, fruits and veggies were taking over our kitchen, so I decided to make this monstrosity Squash, Sunchoke, and Pear Lasagna. I still consider that experiment one of the bigger disasters I have had on this site. I couldn't bear to see all that expensive produce go to waste, so we suffered through two nights of trying to get that horribly heavy, and dry lasagna down. When I went to look for that post I realized it was exactly five years ago today that I posted about that experience. I haven't had another sunchoke since. You can now find them in the grocery store in Fairbanks on occasion. It wasn't until I saw some exceptionally beautiful ones in the produce section of our new Co-op that I seriously started thinking about giving them another try.  Then, by chance I was making another recipe and on the opposing page of the cookbook was a recipe for this creamy sunchoke soup.
I love the nutty flavor and simplicity of this soup. It is however, incredibly rich. I recommend serving it in small portions. The soup would make a great starter for Thanksgiving dinner. I'm definitely warming to the idea of sunchokes and hope to try them again soon. I'll just be keeping them out of my lasagna for now. Have you tried sunchokes? Any great recipes you would like to share? Please leave them in the comments. Thanks!

Creamy Sunchoke Soup
adapted from Flour, Too by Joanne Chang

1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, sliced thin
4 shallots, sliced thin
1 lb. sunchokes, well cleaned, chopped into 2 inch pieces (peel left on)
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup half and half
1 tsp. salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
minced parsley for garnish

Melt butter over medium-high heat in a dutch oven, add garlic and shallots and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until shallots are soft and translucent.  Add the sunchokes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until sunchokes are soft. Remove pot from the heat and let soup cool for a few minutes. Use an immersion blender (or a regular blender in batches) to puree the soup to a smooth consistency. You may choose to strain the soup through a fine mesh strainer or food mill if you like a smoother consistency. If you don't mind a few chunkier pieces of peel, you can skip the straining step. Return soup to stove over medium-low heat and stir in the half and half, add salt and pepper. Cook unitl the soup is warmed thoroughly, sprinkle with parsley and serve. Makes four starter sized servings.

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