In The Kitchen With Tori Aveyby Tori Avey November 2, 2017
During a visit to Israel last autumn, I had dinner with our good friends Ido Aharoni and his wife, Julie Goodman Aharoni. For several years Ido was the Consulate General of Israel in New York. When he moved on from his ambassador post, the Aharoni family found a beautiful home just outside of Jerusalem. While visiting, my husband and I had the pleasure of enjoying a wonderful meal prepared by Julie and their daughter, Sharon. They began the meal with an amazing Jerusalem Artichoke soup. It had such a unique flavor that I knew immediately I wanted to share it with all of you. Julie generously sent me her deceptively simple method that delivers a rich, layered flavor.
Jerusalem artichokes, sometimes called sunchokes, have no connection to Jerusalem or to artichokes despite their name. They have an odd shape that bears a slight resemblance to fresh ginger and are actually part of the sunflower family. Jerusalem artichokes are native to North America and were once a staple in Native American gardens. French explorer Samuel de Champlain happened upon them growing in a Native American garden during the early 1600s. When he tasted them, he noticed they had a flavor reminiscent of artichokes. When they first arrived in France, street vendors in Paris referred to them as topinambours, the French word for tubers. They arrived in Italy sometime before 1633, and became known there as girasole, which translates to “turning toward the sun.” It is believed that the word girasole eventually evolved into “Jerusalem,” resulting in the name Jerusalem artichoke.
These tasty little tubers have experienced times of popularity and decline throughout the years. They were once favored over potatoes in early 17th century France, until a rumor spread, blaming them as a cause of leprosy, possibly due to the texture of their outer skin resembling the effects of the disease. During times of famine, Jerusalem artichokes were often turned to for sustenance. The famous explorers Lewis and Clark ate them during their long expeditions.
A slight word of caution – Jerusalem artichokes contain inulin, a substance that can cause stomach sensitivity in some people. If you are inulin sensitive, or you just want to be safe, make sure you take a digestive enzyme before indulging in any Jerusalem artichoke recipe.
Julie garnished her soup with a sprinkle of chopped chestnuts and a drizzle of truffle oil, which was lovely. Chopped pistachios and a bit of chili-infused oil would also work well. Of course the soup is fantastic all on its own, without any additions. It’s a healthy, warming, nutritious and creamy soup without dairy. Enjoy!
2 lbs Jerusalem artichokes (also known as sunchokes)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, minced
1 tsp minced garlic
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock (if not vegan or vegetarian, you may substitute chicken stock)
1 can full-fat coconut milk
Salt and black pepper
Pinch of cayenne
Chopped chestnuts or chopped pistachios for garnish (optional)
Flavored oil for garnish (optional – my friend Julie uses truffle oil)
You will also need: vegetable peeler, soup pot, immersion blender
Total Time: 30 min
Kosher Key: Pareve
Peel the Jerusalem artichokes, then chop them into quarter-sized pieces. In a soup pot, heat up olive oil over medium heat. Saute minced onion until soft. Add the garlic and saute for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
Add the chopped Jerusalem artichokes to the pot and cover with vegetable or chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Let the artichokes cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and tender.
Stir in the coconut milk and bring back to a low simmer. Stir in a pinch of cayenne, salt and pepper to taste (I use about 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper)
Remove soup from heat. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup.
Garnish with chopped chestnuts or pistachios and a drizzle of truffle oil, if desired.