So I’m a little behind the times. I’m going to talk about Thanksgiving today. The truth is that I forgot all about this here soup I’m about to deliver and so you’re just hearing about it now. But this velvety potage is worth the wait.
I’m not much of a fan of Thanksgiving. Even though I have more than my fair share of zest for cooking and eating, the borderline gluttony of this holiday disturbs me. Before I left for college, it was also a markedly uncomfortable day of visiting with that side of the family. So it is that I haven’t attended official Thanksgiving feasts in over a decade. This particular Thanksgiving last week found me as usual, puttering around the house in my PJs.
The day was gusty and just warm enough here in the city that I had my front door open. The cats appeared to be watching a tennis match as they snapped their heads back and forth to mentally catch the leaves that were zipping around the yard. When I finally left them outside, they sprang and leaped all over the place, failing more often that not to secure the leaf they were after. Amused by my feline family, I got an itch to make something reminiscent of Thanksgiving for D and me to eat for dinner. None for the cats though, although they certainly tried to get a lick or two.
For me, creamy soups are the epitome of fall and harvest and, yes, Thanksgiving fare. Sunchokes, as those of you playing along will know, are a starchy root vegetable I’m really enjoying right now. I’d once looked at this recipe, entitled “Jerusalem Artichoke Soup”, in my dog-eared soup book but at the time had no idea what the heck a Jerusalem Artichoke was. Delighted at now being “in the know,” I was sure this soup would be just the thing for my I-dislike-this-holiday-but-I-kinda-want-to-embrace-its-flavors-anyway mood. And so it was.
While it pains me to say anything bad about the “fugly” sunchoke, in the interest of full disclosure I should issue a word to the wise about eating large quantities of them. Now, I have a stomach of steel so this didn’t happen to me, but I’ve been told that this soup may cause flatulence. Something to do with the inulin they contain, I suppose. In any case, if you haven’t tested your tolerance, you might want to start with just a small serving of this soup. But be prepared to call upon all your will power reserves. It’s hard to refrain from consuming the whole pot of this luscious stuff!
Sunchoke Soup with Saffron Crème
Adapted from The Cook’s Encyclopedia of Soup
4 T. butter
1 onion, chopped
5 or 6 sunchokes to equal 3 c. chopped
3 ¾ c. vegetable broth
2/3 c. milk
2/3 c. crème fraiche
pinch of saffron
salt and pepper
Chopped fresh chives to garnish
Thoroughly wash sunchokes and roughly peel. Don’t worry about getting every nook and crany. Roughly chop sunchokes into 1-2 inch pieces.
Melt the butter in a large heavy saucepan. Add the onion and sauté for 5-6 minutes until soft but not brown, stirring occasionally. Add the sunchokes to the pan and stir to coate with butter. Cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes, being sure to stir them every once in awhile to keep them from burning.
While sunchokes sauté, mix crème fraiche and saffron together in a small bowl. Chill until ready serve.
When sunchokes have sautéed, pour in the vegetable stock and milk. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the sunchokes are soft. Remove from heat and cool for a few minutes before processing with a stick blender or regular blender until smooth. Taste and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper as desired.
Serve immediately, topped with a dollop of saffron crème, fresh chives and a few strands of saffron.