Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Topinambour-apple-sweet potato soup

It is February, and high season for topinambours (also called Jerusalem artichokes, or sunchokes, or, in Danish, jordskokker). I love their nutty flavor, and the fullness they give a vegetable soup – admittedly, however, I don't much love peeling them what with their knobs and lumps. Fortunately, I found large organic topinambours for sale here – large enough that peeling them is no longer an exercise in frustration. This soup, which I have made every second week since the beginning of January, only needs three ingredients (topinambours, sweet potatoes, and apples), and the result is a lovely nutty, earthy soup with a hint of sweetness.

What you need:
  • 10 large or 15 small topinambours, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1-2 apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
  • 2-3 sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3-5 shallots, peeled and chopped [optional]
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced [optional]
  • vegetable stock*
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or butter
  • garnish: hazelnuts

What you do:
  • Heat the fat in a large pot. When hot, add the shallots and garlic (if using) and cook until soft and fragrant. Then add all the vegetables (and the apple, which, I suppose, is a fruit) and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes. You want to release the flavours but not burn the vegetables.
  • Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Let simmer for about one hour, or until all vegetables are soft. Let cool slightly, and blend to a smooth soup.
  • To serve, garnish with finely chopped hazelnuts.

* Please, please make your own. Two simple steps: keep veggie cut offs (including stems, leaves, etc.) in a bag in the freezer. I keep celery leaves, carrot tops, snap pea tips, the greens of leeks, mushroom stems, and just about all other cast off vegetable bits which pass through my kitchen. A couple of hours before you want to make soup, put a few handfuls of cut offs in a pot of water and bring to the boil. Simmer for at least one hour. Ta da! Stock.

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