This special soup can only be described in one way: nothing short of heavenly. Heaven because of the ingredients, and heaven because of the romance that surrounded me stumbling into it. I love recipes with stories like this (that might bore you but feel free to skip ahead!). I made this lovely pot of nutritious soup after returning from a lovely little sojourn on my own to visit my parents.
I returned renewed, slightly blissed out, and packing a few goodies I picked up along the way. Amongst those treasures were a few good new books, a copy of this movie on Cuba's urban gardening legacy, and a small paper bag containing freshly harvested Jerusalem Artichokes, aka Sunchokes, from the folks organic garden. Upon my return, I was catching up on some blog reading and stumbled upon this recipe on Laura's blog. Before we go any further, I simply have to say that I have become quite smitten with this (new to me) site. Not only is the photography stunning, but Laura's food philosophy & recipes are also wonderful - and really resonate with me. The fact that she is also Canadian doesn't hurt either (for this all Canadian gal) ;) So if you are looking to escape amidst a sea of inspiring words and mouth-watering food photography, head on over to visit The First Mess, you'll soon see why I just had to share.
But I digress. The soup. Yes the soup! After reading the post, I recalled the cauliflower I'd had hanging in the fridge for several weeks, and my general love for roasted cauliflower in the winter. I started imagining a beautiful marriage of nutty Sunchokes blended in with creamy roasted onions and cauliflower. That week When I received my winter CSA box, what did I find? A small bag of local hazelnuts to use as a topping. The deal was sealed.
My parents jokingly call Sunchokes 'survival food', as they grow easily here in the wet West Coast and require little to no attention. My dear mom even said they were annoying her for taking over the rest of her growing space and she wanted to rein them in. Imagine then, that to find these in retailers can be not only tricky, but if you actually do they are generally outrageously priced. So if you can, look to your local grocer or your farmer's market to seek them out. You will be happy you did. Of course, if you can't find the Sunchokes, you could also make the original recipe here, or simply carry on with this version sans the unique and flavorful Sunchoke. Warning: they are really, really good. Especially here. I'd love to know if you any of you have experience either growing or cooking with these!
Roasted Sunchoke & Cauliflower Soup:
- (1) head cauliflower washed & chopped into florets
- (3-4) small potatoes, chopped with skin on (I used German butter potatoes)
- (2) large yellow onions, peeled and roughly chopped
- (5-6) medium Jerusalem Artichokes washed & chopped (skins on)
- (3) tbsp oil
- (3) tsp salt
- (1) tbsp lemon juice (about one wedge)
- (1) liter vegetable stock
- (1) liter cold fresh water
- roasted & chopped hazelnuts
- chopped fresh herbs (I used basil)
- grated fresh parmesan
- freshly ground black pepper
- reserved pieces of roasted cauliflower & onions
Heat the oven to 400 degrees and prepare a large deep roasting pan (a 9/13 lasagna pan or bigger) or two smaller pans. Throw the vegetables into the pan as you prepare them, and once done, toss with (3) tbsp olive oil and the (3) tsp salt. Roast for an entire hour or longer, until the veggies are soft and brown. Be sure to toss them a few times during the roasting time to make sure they brown evenly and get well acquainted with each other. Once ready, add the lemon juice to the still hot vegetables.
Next, blend the cooked vegetables with the stock and water, in 5-6 batches to promote even blending and thorough pureeing - the consistency should be smooth and silky. Transfer the pureed soup batches as they are done to a large soup pot. Once all the soup is blended and ready to heat, gently heat on medium-high heat until hot (careful not to burn). Taste to adjust salt & pepper (this shouldn't be necessary), and ladle into bowls to serve. Serve with any and all of the above toppings, and enjoy!