“Is that ginger root?” Nope, it’s a Jeruselem artichoke, also known as a sunchoke.
This tuber grows wild under a tall flowering plant like a sunflower (hence the name sunchoke), and as we’ve learned, when cultivated, must be watched like mint lest it run amok and take over the garden. It can be sliced and eaten raw in salads, although we find them ratehr starchy and prefer them cooked. The flavor is similar to artichoke hearts, as the name implies, and is delicious roasted with potatoes and garlic, with a little fresh rosemary and sea salt.
Sunchoke flesh oxidizes (turns rusty brown) very quickly, so put them straight into acidulated water when cutting them to use uncooked. (Acidulated water can be made by combining 1.5 tablespoons vinegar or 3 tablespoons lemon juice or 1/2 cup white wine with 1 quart of water.)
Jerusalem Artichoke Soup
2 T butter
2 T olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped (or a chunk of celeriac)
1 1/2 lb Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and chopped
5 cups vegetable stock
1 1/4 c. milk 8 slices French bread
1 cup Marcoot Gouda cheese, grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan, and cook the onion, garlic and celery over a medium heat for about 5 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally.
2. Add the prepared artichokes and cook for a further 5 minutes.
3. Add the stock and seasoning, Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20—25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the artichokes are tender.
4. Process the soup in a food processor or blender until smooth (be careful blending hot liquids!). Better yet, use an immersion blender. Return the soup to the pan, stir in the milk and heat through gently for 2 minutes.
5. Lightly grill the bread on one side, then sprinkle the untoasted side with the cheese. Grill until the cheese melts and is golden. Ladle the soup into bowls, and top with the cheese toasts.