Monday, January 14, 2013

Potager Soup Recipe and Jerusalem Artichokes

We love to grow Jerusalem Artichokes for three main reasons, one they are an easy crop to grow and look after, two they tower above everything else with pretty flowers that are very much like a sunflower, and finally, you can leave them in the ground and harvest all through the winter. Once they get established they will come back year after year which is fantastic for a lazy gardener like me. Some people say they are very thuggish, but with our relaxed planting we love them. Despite their name they are not related to the globe artichoke, although the flavour is similar, and they don’t originate from Jerusalem either. Their Italian name is ‘girasole’ meaning ‘turning to the sun’, and it’s thought over time this has become Jerusalem.
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In terms of health, their main benefit is that our bodies don’t store their carbohydrates in the same way as those of other tubers like potatoes. This basically means they are not as readily converted into sugar in our bodies. However their one side effect is that they can lead to increased wind (hence the nickname fartichokes!)

In terms of cooking we peel and slice or dice and add them to casseroles cooked in the slow cooker or pan fry them with, for example shallots, onions, leeks or butternut squash and garlic. In larger pieces they roast well too and as my friend Sue suggests they give a lovely nutty flavour when mashed with potatos. I was also told that they juice well with ginger and parsley, so I gave it a go and very refreshing it was too, thanks Rhonwen. A very versatile winter root - in my opinion.

As we are in soup season here is my basic potager soup recipe. I regularly make this in big batches all year, in the summer I use our glut of courgettes and freeze the soup for the winter, in the autumn I use pumpkins and squash and in the winter leeks and Jerusalem Artichokes, but any vegetables will do.

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Potager Soup

Sauté an onion and 1 tsp of cumin seeds in some olive oil or butter, add 1 or 2 cloves of garlic and 1 tsp of mixed curry spices (my favourites are coriander, turmeric and cumin), then add the diced vegetables (however many you have), salt and pepper, and just cover either with chicken or vegetable stock and simmer until the vegetables are tender. For a really warming version add a sliced chilli and for more flavour from root vegetables or squash, roast them then add to sautéed onions and stock. My preference is to blend until smooth, but I will occasionally add a tin of cooked lentils or chickpeas after blending to give some texture, the variations are endless. If I am making in the summer I will freeze in portions to eat in the winter.  If you like, when serving, a dollop of crème fraiche can be added and I always like to top with grated cheese. Our winters can be very cold and the warmth of a soup for lunch plus the positive memories of warmer days and good harvests helps to keep my winter blues away.

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  1. This post popped up as I the middle of making soup! A very simple leek and potato as it happens. I'm not a fan of the tinned variety but home-made soups are something else. I'm definitely going to try your Potager soup - I love cumin and slightly spicy soups so I know I'll love this :-)

    1. Thanks Karen, I hope you do enjoy it. Soups keep me sane in the winter, I can't imagine what state I would be in without them:)

  2. A great recipe, I am also a huge corriander fan. As we are in Scotland for the winter, vegetable broth is pretty much our everyday lunch too, although I miss being able to use our own veg in France. I will definately give this recipe a go, thanks.

  3. Thanks Andy, hope it's not too cold in Scotland. I love the word 'broth', so warming and comforting.

  4. Thank you for your timely post. I had just got some frozen Jerusalem Artichokes out of the freezer to make soup for lunch today. I thought I would try your soup recipe but then we had a power cut and I couldn't refer to it - another time. We live in a tiny village in Le Morvan and a French neighbour said that the friend who gave me my artichoke plants was no friend because the way the Jerusalem Artichokes take over I wouldn't have a garden left!!

    1. Maybe next time Delia! I have to admit I never thought about freezing the artichokes, so thanks for that, I do freeze soups, but not usually the raw ingredients. Funny how some people don't like them invading, we have had them for about three or four years and although we haven't had to replant in that time they haven't taken over by any means! Hope it isn't too cold for you today.


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