The farmers markets have started up again, and I am (as usual) ecstatic. Wandering through last week, I saw a big pile of sunchokes (a.k.a. Jerusalem artichokes, which doesn’t sound as nice) next to a bunch of lovely golden beets. I immediately remembered that I had a lemongrass stalk sitting in my fridge lonely for a home, and a scheme was hatched.
- 1 large leek
- About a pound of sunchokes
- About 2 tbs. finely chopped (use a blander if you’ve got one) lemongrass
- 2 cups stock (I used water with vegeta, herbs de provence, celery
- salt, white pepper, and fish sauce)
- 1 cup water (I boosted mine with about a 1/2 tsp of Bragg’s)
- 1/4 cup heavy cream (plus more to taste)
- 2 tbs butter
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 tsp truffle oil
- Fresh ground pepper
- Tiny pinch of nutmeg
- Garnish with sumac, if you like.
- Golden beets (optional)
Caramelize the thinly sliced leeks in the butter and olive oil (about 20 mins on med-low heat), then stir in the lemongrass. Add scrubbed sunchokes, cut into 1″ or so chunks,as well as your stock and water. Bring to a low boil, then back off the heat to medium (or, preferably, med-low), and simmer until the sunchokes are fork-tender (but not mushy). This takes at least 20 minutes – longer if you use lower heat (which I recommend). Somewhere in this time, stir in the nutmeg (to taste) and truffle oil.
Remove from heat and blend (I used my nifty immersion blender, but a regular one will do fine). If you have a china cap, it might be nice to make the soup an even texture, but I kinda like the roughness of a puree. Finally, stir in the cream and add pepper (salt too, if you must). Serve, topped with a sprinkle of sumac.
The result is delicious. Adding the lemongrass really brightens up the dish, and makes the nutty sunchokes stand out even more, I think. As good as it was the first night, piping hot, I may have liked it even better cold.
Temperature is only one possible variation here. The first (and best, but only on the hot soup) is where the beets come in. Scrub and slice your beets very (very!) thin, and toss them in the over at about 350 until they crisp up. Then, toss them with a tiny bit of olive oil and sea salt, and they make a really pretty topping for the soup, adding a nice crunch as well.
For future versions, I may try roasting the sunchokes beforehand to give it an earthier, sweeter flavor. I think this also would be a great accompaniment to a braised pork shoulder or short rib.