Jerusalem Artichoke Soup, Gratin and Purée

A ray of sunflower to brighten your plate

Jerusalem artichokes are not artichokes, but tubers in the sunflower family.

Jerusalem artichokes are not artichokes, but tubers in the sunflower family.

Jerusalem artichoke. Sunchoke. Sun root. Earth apple. Whatever you call it, this earthy vegetable, the tuber of a species of sunflower, is a world traveler.

Enjoyed by Native Americans long before Europeans came to this part of the world, the Jerusalem artichoke was taken to Europe in the 1700s and quickly gained popularity. (The name Jerusalem artichoke, incidentally, has nothing to do with Jerusalem. It is said to be a corruption of the Italian word for sunflower—girasole.) Jerusalem artichokes continue to be an important part of French cuisine and are used throughout Europe. They are traditionally made into a distilled spirit in Germany. More locally, look for Sunchoke Brandy from KOVAL, the Chicago-based distillery.

Jerusalem artichokes form below the soil during the summer and fall, winter over well and are plentiful at Michiana farmers markets from February through May. They cook up into velvety soups and nutty baked dishes. (Note: Jerusalem artichokes contain inulin, which some individuals find difficult to digest. Start by eating small amounts.)

Selecting: Look for firm, crisp Jerusalem artichokes with smooth skin and no black spots.

Storing: Store in the refrigerator, covered, for 2–3 weeks.

Preparation: Most recipes do not call for peeling. Instead, scrub well to remove grit and soil from between the nubs.

Uses: Jerusalem artichokes are best enjoyed baked, creamed, fried, roasted or sautéed.

Pairings: Bacon, black pepper, butter, chicken stock, chives, cream, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, goat cheese, hazelnuts, leeks, lemon, morels, nutmeg, olive oil, onions, parsley, potatoes, rosemary, sage, salt, shallots, sunflower seed oil, tarragon and thyme.originalEMrecipes

Tara Swartzendruber-Landis is Edible Michiana’s recipe editor and food stylist. After a decade living on the East Coast, she is happy to be gardening, cooking and eating in the Michiana area again.

PotatoSoupJerusalem Artichoke and Potato Soup

This simple, velvety soup will warm up your kitchen on a cold March or April day.

Serves 4

1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and chopped into 1- to 2-inch pieces
3 potatoes, about 1/2 pound
1 cup onion, chopped
3 cups (24 ounces) chicken stock or broth, plus more to thin the soup
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 tablespoons chives, diced
4 tablespoons soft goat cheese
Microgreens, for serving

Place the butter and salt in a pot over medium heat. Add the Jerusalem artichokes, potatoes and onions and sweat for 10–15 minutes by placing the lid back on the pot, stirring every few minutes. If the vegetables begin to brown, lower the heat. Add the chicken stock and cook until the vegetables are tender. Purée the mixture and return to the heat. Adjust the seasoning.

To serve: Divide the bacon, chives and goat cheese among 4 bowls. Pour the soup over the top and garnish with the microgreens.

ChokePureeJerusalem Artichoke Purée

This rich and comforting purée was recommended by farmer Kate Lind of Sustainable Greens (Goshen Farmers Market). We suggest serving it with a pan-seared beef loin or a flat iron steak.

Yield: About 1¼ cups, serves 4–6

2½ cups Jerusalem artichokes, scrubbed and chopped
Salt
½ cup whole cream

Place Jerusalem artichokes in a pot of simmering, salted water for 25–30 minutes, until tender. Run through a small strainer to remove the skin. Warm the cream and whisk it into the Jerusalem artichoke purée. Add a pinch of salt. Serve warm.

gratinJerusalem Artichoke Gratin

Serves 6–8

1 tablespoon butter, plus more for the baking pan
1 egg
1½ cups whole cream
1¼ pounds Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and thinly sliced
1½ cups hard goat cheese, grated
6 morels, cleaned and chopped (can substitute dried and rehydrated morels)
Salt
1 shallot, about 1 tablespoon, minced

Butter an 8- by 8-inch baking dish. Preheat oven to 400°. Whisk the egg and cream together in a bowl. Set aside. Place a layer of the Jerusalem artichokes in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle ½ cup of the cheese on top and a third of the chopped mushrooms. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Pour ½ cup of the egg/cream mixture over this. Repeat this process 2 more times, adding the shallot to the top layer. Cut the butter into slivers and place on top of the finished layers. Cover with foil and bake for 30–40 minutes, take off the foil and bake for another 15–20 minutes, until the top is golden and the Jerusalem artichokes are tender.

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