Soup. A hug in a mug. Or a bowl. Comforting. Nurturing. Nourishing.
I would definitely have to feature soup in my top ten death row dinners. But which one? Before last week, I’d have said the spicy butternut and coconut soup recipe that I shared with you, without even the slightest hint of a flinch or a stutter.
But another has just crept in under my radar and rudely pushed its way to the front of the queue. This is the soup to which all others should aspire.
So stop what you’re doing right now. Drop everything and head to every supermarket you can think of until you find a stash of Jerusalem artichokes. And then be selfish and buy the lot. Start a wave of panic-buying and a resultant national shortage. This soup is more than worth the chaos. And these babies have a pitifully short growing season. So fill your welly boots, car boots and handbags while you can.
Yes, ok. We all know what Jerusalem artichokes are known for. And everyone who has come into contact with the batch of broth I made earlier this week will vouch for that. If you don’t know what I’m referring to, you soon will. But here’s a clue: if you’re likely to be within 100 yards of someone you vaguely fancy, leave the soup until later. Seriously.
And just to make sure you’re buying the right kind of artichokes, these are the ones that look like knobbly potatoes, NOT the globe ones.
You will need the following ingredients: 20g dried wild/porcini/Chinese mushrooms; olive or coconut oil; 1 leek; small handful shallots; 700g Jerusalem artichokes (don’t bother peeling them if they’re hair-free; 250g vacuum packed, pre-cooked chestnuts; 150g shitake mushrooms (great for the immune system); 1.2 litres Marigold vegetable bouillon stock; salt and pepper (if you only have table salt, dump it in the bin, go and buy sea, Maldon or Himalayan pink salt, and never look back); Flat leaf parsley; truffle oil (TK Maxx were selling bottles of the stuff for a great price recently)
1. Soak the dried mushrooms in hot water (not boiling), with just enough to cover them.
2. Heat a dollop of coconut oil in a pan, add the finely chopped leek and shallots, and a splash of water. Saute these for 15 minutes, checking that they’re not sticking to the bottom of the pan. If they are, add a little more water.
3. Chop the artichokes roughly and remove any stray hairs (what they lack in aesthetics, they more than make up for in flavour, thankfully). Add to the pan with the shallots and leeks once the 15 minutes is up and mix well. Cover and sweat for 10 minutes (not you, the veg).
4. Add the chestnuts, the liquid you used to soak the mushrooms in, half the soaked mushrooms and the stock. Season with the lovely new salt you just bought and plenty of black pepper.
5. Simmer on a low heat until the artichokes are tender (20-30 mins-ish). Allow to cool a little, then blend everything to within an inch of its life, preferably with a hand blender if you like an easy ride.
6.If the fresh mushrooms are bigger than a mouthful, halve them, but leave whole where possible. Melt some more coconut oil in a shallow pan and gently cook the mushrooms over a medium to high heat so they brown a little.
7. Add most of the mushrooms to the already-blended soup, and keep a few to serve on top so it looks posh.
8. Heat the soup through gently, scatter on the chopped flat leaf parsley, drizzle with the truffle oil (if you managed to find some) and top with a few mushrooms.
9. Be prepared for an amazingly tasty dinner experience.
10. Deny ownership of any mystery sounds emanating from your person.
10. Thank me profusely.