My first dabblings with Jerusalem artichoke (also: topinambour) were not successful ones. Attempts to turn it into a vegetable side left me scratching my head over how anyone might see (or taste) anything in this watery and seemingly not particularly pleasing tasting tuber.
Well, I was wrong.
I have since been inspired by the seasonal fare displayed in the market stalls to give the rather unappealing-looking roots a second chance. And I was infinitely more successful this time. The recipe below will, first of all, give you a pretty good idea of how Jerusalem artichoke may have come by its name despite not being related at all to the artichoke family (or, incidentally, having any connection with Jerusalem). For those of you who are interested in trivia, it is actually a species of sunflower native to North-America. Second of all, it will hopefully make you learn to appreciate this somehow humble tuber vegetable. The recipe puts an emphasis on not overshadowing the taste of the Jerusalem artichoke by not adding too many and/or too powerful spices, while extracting the rather unique own taste of the Jerusalem artichoke.
- ca. 400 grams of Jerusalem artichoke, peeled, washed and diced
- 1/4 of a yellow onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons of high temperature oil
- ca. 50 ml of dry sherry
- ca. 100 ml. of white wine
- salt, freshly ground pepper (I suggest Cubeb pepper)
- 1/2 tablespoon of mustard seed, crushed in a mortar
- ca. 100 grams of cream
- ca. 10 grams of butter
- a dash of lemon juice
- ca. 100 ml. of milk
- For decoration: 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of crushed hazelnuts or walnuts per dish
- Heat up the olive oil in a large, thick-based sauce-pot to medium heat. Fry the onion gently for several minutes until soft. Make sure the onion does not pick up color.
- Add the sherry and let reduce completely over medium heat. Ad the sherry evaporates, caramelize the onion slightly (!) in the remaining liquid, then add the white wine.
- Let the white wine reduce to half. Add the Jerusalem artichoke and the spices.
- Bring to the boil, then cover and let simmer over medium heat for approximately 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, break the nuts into small bits and roast in a non-stick pan (without any addition of oil or anything else) over medium to high heat. Keep moving the nuts in the pan and make sure they do not burn. Take off the heat and set aside.
- At the end of the cooking time, take the soup off the heat and stir in the cream, the butter and add the lemon juice as well as salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
- Blend until smooth in a blender or with a hand-blender.
- Pour back into the sauce-pot, add the milk and gently bring to the boil again while stirring. Take off the heat immediately and ladle into pre-warmed soup dished.
- Sprinkle with the roasted nuts and enjoy!