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Jerusalem artichoke soup

April 25, 2011

Jerusalem artichokes have just arrived at Fruits on Coventry at South Melbourne Market but they weren’t exactly selling like hotcakes yesterday. I think these ones must be a little early as they’re not usually in season till May or June, or at least after the first frosts. However, local weather has been decidedly fickle in recent times so nothing is a surprise.

It hardly seems any time since the last season finished as I recall one vegetable store had a warning on theirs – “These are not ginger.” They are like knobbly potatoes and do look a little similar to ginger. I guess some customers got caught out.

These vegetables don’t actually come from Jerusalem but are thought to be from South Armerica and are a species of sunflower. The Italian for sunflower is girasole so possibly this is how the name came about.

Jerusalem artichokes have a nice crunch and can be used in a salad. They tend to discolour when peeled and sliced so it's a good idea to place the slices in acidulated water - a dash of lemon juice or white vinegar will do the trick.

A warning - Jerusalem artichokes contain inulin, a carbohydrate that breaks down into fructose. Some people have difficulty digesting inulin, with resulting flatulence…

It you want to use Jerusalem artichokes like potatoes, it pays to steam rather than boil them as they fall apart and turn easily to mush. Here’s a simple soup recipe.

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

750g peeled and diced Jerusalem artichokes
1 stick of celery, finely chopped
1 large onion, diced
1 leek, chopped
Butter
750ml of chicken stock
Double cream (optional)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a saucepan and gently sauté the celery, onion and leek for 5 minutes or so until softened slightly, then add the Jerusalem artichokes and cook for another three minutes stirring regularly.

Add chicken stock and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes approximately until everything is soft. Puree until smooth, adding some cream if you wish. Adjust the seasoning.

Gently reheat and serve, garnished with a few toasted, chopped hazelnuts.

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