By Esther Boateng
A hearty warm soup is perfect for those days when you fancy a light lunch or supper, and don’t want to spend ages cooking. After all, not every day has to be a full-on cooking day. Nourish your mind and body, and tickle your taste buds, without working overtime in the kitchen. Who knows, you might be able to squeeze in some quiet time to reflect on the day ahead while you wait for your vegetables to roast.
You also have the option to let your vegetables simmer on the stove without going anywhere near an oven. I prefer to coat the vegetables with sufficient butter or oil before I roast them; it gives the soup more flavor than vegetables simmered on the stove. It’s a personal preference. You can use bone broth, stock, or even the water brewed from chaga nuggets, if you happen to have some handy.
Jerusalem artichokes, also known as sunchokes or sunflower chokes, are delicious root vegetables that have a nutty taste similar to water chestnuts. You prepare them like potatoes. If you are not familiar with how they look, you can easily mistake them for ginger. Although this vegetable can be eaten raw, I prefer to eat it cooked to avoid unwanted bouts of flatulence. Besides, it’s a shame to miss out on that amazing creamy texture, which makes them an excellent choice for soups or sunchoke mash.
One of the drawbacks with sun chokes is the peeling. I once made the mistake of keeping most of the skin intact in an effort to be super healthy. Big mistake. Do not be deceived by their paper-thin skin; it was chewier than I anticipated. Their knobby shape is a little tricky to navigate when peeling, but worth the hassle. And of course, flatulence is another drawback with raw sunchokes. However, if you steam them first, this neutralizes the inulin, the chemical that can cause bloating or gas from the raw vegetable. Apart from these minor drawbacks, I cannot recommend this vegetable highly enough.
Jerusalem Artichoke (Sunchoke) and Mushroom Soup
- Pre-heat oven to 350 °F.
- Peel the garlic and squash it with the flat side of a knife and put aside.
- Peel the sun chokes, rinse them in water, and cut into chunks.
- Carefully remove any debris from the mushrooms with a damp paper towel and randomly chop in half.
- Add butter to a saucepan and heat it on a medium temperature for 1-2 minutes or until melted. Remove from heat.
- Add the vegetables and garlic cloves to the pan, along with the ramp and pepper salt.
- Give the vegetables a quick mix, and lightly coat them with butter.
- Place a sheet of parchment paper (aka greaseproof paper) on a baking tray.
- Tip the vegetables onto the tray and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the sun chokes feel soft and the garlic looks sufficiently roasted.
- Remove the tray from the oven and transfer the vegetables, including any liquid that has gathered on the paper, into the same saucepan that you used to heat the butter earlier.
- Add bone broth to the saucepan of vegetables, and gently bring to a simmer. Turn to a low heat and simmer with the lid on for approximately 10 minutes.
- Remove from the heat.
- Transfer to a high-speed blender and blitz for several seconds until you get your desired consistency.
- If you are using cream, now is the time to add it. Use a spoon to mix in the cream and serve immediately.
Root vegetables take longer to cook than mushrooms. Sometimes I steam the sun chokes for approximately 5 minutes or until they are slightly soft before placing them in the oven.
Be careful when blending. I normally blend the soup in two batches. You want to avoid a full jug of hot liquid swirling around. If you want your soup to have more of a liquid consistency, add additional bone broth. For thicker soups, add less bone broth.