Jerusalem artichoke velouté

Many years ago, we grew some Jerusalem artichokes. I loved the flavour, but the knobbly little roots were such a pain to scrub and peel that it was a one-off experiment. But the other day I was shopping for Christmas in the wonderful covered market in Narbonne. Apparently progress has been made in selective breeding of Jerusalem artichokes. One stall had a box of oval pink topinambours about the size of new potatoes. No lumps and bumps! A plan was formed, and I bought half a dozen.

With my idea in mind I had a quick browse on and picked this simple recipe for its overwhelmingly favourable reviews; everyone who tried it gave it 5/5. An excellent choice: easy to do, and the flavour was exactly what I hoped for. I’m serving it in shot glasses garnished with small cubes of foie gras, as an amuse-bouche on Christmas day. If that doesn’t float your boat, you can garnish with shreds of crisp-fried prosciutto, Iberico ham, or bacon; shavings of truffle; or just a drizzle of truffle oil.

500 g Jerusalem artichokes
2 tbs olive oil or butter
1 tsp runny honey
1 chicken or vegetable stock cube
500 ml water
200 ml cream
salt and pepper

Peel and rinse the artichokes and cut into dice. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and fry the cubes gently over a moderate heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the honey, turn up the heat, and continue to fry for a minute or two, stirring, until the artichoke cubes are lightly caramelised. This is important for flavour and colour. Add the water and the crumbled stock cube, bring to the boil, and stir in the cream. Cover and simmer gently for 40 minutes.

Once done, liquidise the soup thoroughly, and season to taste with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

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