Jerusalem artichokes are strange looking purple-skinned, knobbly tubers, something like enraged ginger roots. After you've attacked them with a vegetable peeler, which you don't always have to do you can just scrub vigorously, you'll uncover white flesh with a texture similar to but softer than a potato. After you've cooked them, you'll find their flavour is delicately nutty and sweet. Roasting brings out their gorgeous flavour and leaves you with delectable melting flesh; braising allows you to meld their sweetness with slightly stronger flavours; making soup presents you with all sorts of opportunities.
And making soup is very easy.
Easy actually wasn't at the top of our list of requirements when we made this. Rather, we needed a starter for an alcohol-rich Sunday lunch at the end of a cold, wet November. That it didn't demand anything more difficult than chopping, and could be served with lots of bread and a salad as a main course were bonus features. What won us over were the subtle flavours.
Ingrediments to serve four
Melt a large knob of butter with a splash of oil in your stockpot, or whichever large recepticle you favour for soup-making. When hot, add the onions and garlic and fry gently until the onions are glassy. That should take three or four minutes.
Add the Jerusalem artichokes and move them around the pan. Cover and allow to soften for five or ten minutes.
Cover the vegetables with stock. As per usual, we didn't exactly measure it, but you are probably looking at a quantity somewhere around two pints, or one litre. Season with salt and pepper and add the rosemary. Reduce the heat, cover, and allow the Jerusalem artichokes to cook to a point where they can be squashed against the side of the pan with the back of a wooden spoon. Say around 30 minutes.
At this point, it is time to liquidise. DEB favours a hand-blender, LPM prefers the food processor method, but we shan't be standing over you in your kitchen, so we shan't complain if you use a liquidiser, either.
If you used a food processor or a liquidiser, return the soup to the pan, if you didn't use one of those, you won't need to return it to the pan. Well, unless you spattered it all over the walls, but then you have a slightly bigger task ahead of you. But you should add the wine, and some more stock if it's too thick, and then check the balance of flavours. It should be delicate, with the fruityness of the wine lifting it. Add the cream, and the flavours will be neatly rounded.
That, then, is that. Enjoy!