Results tagged “jerusalem artichoke”

Jerusalem artichokes

Jerusalem artichokes are neither artichokes nor from Jerusalem.  It seems their name is a corruption of ‘girasole’, Italian for sunflower, as the plant is indeed a relative, complete with bright yellow flowers and head-turning properties.  They originated in North America and first arrived in the UK in 1617, via France.  Their flavour is distinctly artichokey, which probably explains the first half of their name.  In the United States now they’re called ‘sunchokes’, which, as much as I hate invented conjoined abbreviations, is probably a more sensible name.

Jerusalem artichoke soup with prawns and piment d'Espelette

We had something like this at Mon Vieil Ami, an excellent bistro in Paris, during the first week of our culinary travels.  Jerusalem artichoke has to be one of my favourite soups; it’s just so delicious.  This combination with sweet shellfish, fresh herbs and slightly hot, bright chilli is a winner.  In the bistro they performed some table theatre for us by pouring the soup over the garnishes artfully placed in the bowl.  You could just put the garnishes on top, as usual; the prawns will just about stay on the surface without sinking.  

Smjartichokeprawn0002.jpgPiment d’Espelette is a red chilli grown in a small area in southern France, traditionally northern Basque Country.  The dried flakes have a small amount of heat and almost smoky flavour with some acidity.  You could substitute a mix of hot and sweet paprika, perhaps with a dash of smoky Spanish ‘pimentón’ if you have it.  Piment d’Espelette has its own AOC status and was all the rage in Parisian bistros when we were eating our way round them in February 2008.

For a much simpler Jerusalem artichoke soup, simply omit all the garnishes - it’s still fabulous.  Or see the variation at the bottom which is from my Chez Panisse intern days - a perfect marriage of celery and ‘sunchoke’, as they call it there.  This soup also featured on our road trip: the owner of Lalla Mira organic restaurant and hotel in Essaouira agreed for her chef to teach me the Moroccan speciality ‘pastilla’ on condition that I reciprocated by teaching her some new dishes.  I found some lovely Jerusalem artichokes in the souk, and this soup was a big success.



Culinary Anthropologist