After I posted the LLG story about the dinner I hosted for Amara last week, I was inundated with requests across Instagram, Facebook and email for the recipes for the dishes I cooked.
The menu – mini cheese and truffle mustard toasties, Jerusalem Artichoke soup, mushroom fricassee, roasted pumpkin, cauliflower, followed by apple and quince crumble and damson ripple vanilla ice cream, was designed to be a celebration of autumnal flavours, as we move from the fresh green notes of the summer kitchen towards something more earthy and comforting on the stove.
A version of the soup first made an appearance on the blog back in 2012, garnished with a heaping pile of fried chestnut mushrooms, inspired by a very good bowl of soup at the York & Albany by Regent’s Park, and I thought it was time for an update.
Creamy, earthy, rich: Jerusalem artichokes are one of those vegetables that are unprepossessing in the greengrocers, but change into something rather glorious in the kitchen, and their nutty flavour goes particularly well with truffle oil.
They aren’t actually artichokes, but the tubers of a member of the sunflower family, which is why they are known as sunchokes in America. Although the little knobbly tubers look a little intimidating, they are prepared in exactly the same way as a potato or other tuber. Peel or scrape, chop, done.
It is important to drop them into acidulated water as you peel them – that’s a mixing bowl with a few drops of lemon juice, as otherwise they’ll go brown, which will affect the colour of your soup.
As I mentioned in a recipe in my cookbook Friends, Food, Family for pan-fried Jerusalem artichokes with petit pois, lemon zest and garlic butter, they aren’t known as fartichokes for nothing. Do not serve these to anyone on a first date, unless you really want to make an impression. That being said my family know no shame, so they’ve always been popular chez Wilkins.
Note: You make this as a vegan recipe by replacing all the butter with olive oil, and omitting the cream. If you have cashew cream to hand this would be nice to swirl on the top of the soup instead.
Soup recipes are very forgiving: you can easily halve this, and it freezes well too – although don’t add the cream if you are making it for the freezer.
Serves six –eight as a first course, depending on greed and size of bowls, and 4-6 as a main course.
1,5kg Jerusalem artichokes
2 large leeks (you could use a large onion of you prefer)
100 grams butter
2tbsps olive oil
1,5 litres vegetable stock (you can use chicken stock if you prefer)
100ml single cream
Peel and chop the artichokes into small pieces and place them in acidulated water. Prepare the leeks by stripping off the outside leaves, cutting off most of the dark green ends and the roots, then cutting into thin rounds. Heat the vegetable stock.
Add the butter and olive oil to a large pan – big enough to cook the soup in, and when the butter is sizzling, tip in the leeks. Turn the heat to medium, and sweat (cook slowly) the leeks slowly until they are soft— a good five minutes – then add the drained artichokes and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally so they don’t catch. Then cover with vegetable stock.
Simmer gently until the artichokes are soft.
Then turn off the heat and blend together the tubers and the liquid. It’s easiest to use an immersion stick blender in the pan, but you can also process the soup in batches in a jug blender. Stop when you’ve got a lovely smooth liquid. If you are serving the soup shortly pour in the single cream, bring gently to simmering point then remove from the heat.
(If you have used a jug blender you’ll need to return the soup to the cooking pan to heat it through with the cream.)
Season to taste: for this quantity of soup I start with half a tablespoon of truffle oil, lots of black pepper and Maldon salt. Truffle oil varies in strengths and can be very overpowering, so start gently. If the soup seems too thick add in either more hot stock or cream, depending on your taste. Check seasoning again.
Put a small frying pan over the heat and add the chopped hazelnuts. Shake the pan every so often. It should take just a few minutes for the nuts to turn a lovely golden colour, with a few turning a little browner. Keep an eagle eye on them as they can easily catch and burn.
Serve in bowls, with a little extra truffle oil drizzled over the top of the soup, and the toasted hazelnuts scattered over all.
Luis Dinner Plate £15.00 Luis Salad Plate – White £10.00 Luis Bowl – White £12.00 Paloma 24-piece cutlery set £300.00
Cap Esterel Dish – Small £50.00 Severn Glass Tumbler – £9.00 Nordal Clear French Wine Glass £7.50
All cutlery, china and glassware is from the new Amara Collection and was lent to me for the shoot