Sunchokes, otherwise known as Jerusalem artichokes, are these interesting looking tubers that until now I had never tasted before. Call them what you will, but I call them confusing- they are neither from Jerusalem nor do they have anything to do with artichokes. They don't look sunny, though they do look like you could choke on one of them and they are certainly not the most appetizing looking veggie in the bin with their wrinkly brown skin. I have passed them numerous times in the store and almost never give them a second glance- they always seemed complicated and strange as though they should still be underground. Interestingly enough though, these gnarled, lumpy and bumpy tubers are related to the pretty sunflower- go figure! But I was recently in the shuk and passed a whole stand of them and something about them was screaming at me to buy them -oh, wait, that was the shuk vendor screaming at me to buy them- but it worked, because I packed up a kilo of them and made my way home. Don't judge a book by their cover is an apt description for their taste. Underneath their brown skin is a glossy white vegetable who when sliced thinly and eaten raw sort of remind me of a Jicama- slightly sweet, a little crunchy and altogether inoffensive. Cooked, however, they start to resemble a potato but with it's own mild distinct flavor that tastes like surprise, surprise- an artichoke! You can roast them, mash them or throw them raw into a salad (just have some gas-x handy if you are going to do that because they are known to wreak some havoc in that department) but I decided to make a pureed soup out of them. This soup is simple but delicious and as the sunchokes are mild I didn't want any intense spices overwhelming their flavor. So if you are like me, and have avoided those sunchokes because they looked like scary witches fingers to you, do yourself a favor and try them- they're delicious! Enjoy!
1 Kilo (2 pounds) Jerusalem Artichokes, pelled and chunked
3 Tbl Olive oil
2 leeks, cleaned and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
8 cups chicken stock ( I recommend chicken stock because it really adds depth of flavor but use vegetable stock or consomme if that is all you have)
salt and pepper to taste
In a soup pot heat the oil and saute the leeks, garlic, carrot and celery until the vegetables are translucent. Add the sunchokes and the stock and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper and let the soup simmer for about an hour. Puree with an immersion blender and serve.
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