Sunchokes are a peculiar root veggie with a tater-like consistency. They’re in one of my favorite categories of food that I like to call “starchy yums”. They’re not the easiest to come by, but whenever I see them I’ll snag a handful and churn out some of this tasty pureed soup. If you can’t find sunchokes, yukon gold potatoes would be a suitable substitute in this recipe.
Don’t let the idea of a pureed soup freak you out, you can get excellent results with an average upright blender. Just as long as you can take a break from mixing up frozen margaritas…
Leek & Sunchoke Soup
2 lbs sunchokes (limited availability at the Fair Food Farmstand)
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 c chopped leeks (don’t use the dark green parts)
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp unsalted butter
6 c (or more) vegetable broth
1/2 c heavy cream
1 tsp fennel seed, dry toasted, ground
1/4 tsp mace
salt and ground white pepper
Sunchokes don’t have to be peeled, so if you don’t feel like being bothered, and don’t mind a soup that’s dotted with darker flecks, then feel free to skip this first step. Otherwise, fill a large bowl with cool tap water, add the vinegar. Sunchokes will oxidize and discolor, so work with them one at a time. The vinegar solution will keep their cream-like color. Their knobby surface can be tricky to peel, but working with a vegetable peeler and the edge of a teaspoon to get in the smaller crevices. If you enjoy veggie prep as much as I do though this should be a pretty entertaining experience. Drop them in the vinegar solution as you go along.
Melt butter in a large pot and cook the leeks over medium heat until soft, about 8 minutes or so. Add the garlic, ground fennel and mace, and cook a minute or two longer, until fragrant. Drain the sunchokes and rinse them. Cut them into small, uniformly sized pieces (so they cook evenly) and add them to the pot. Cook these for a few more minutes before adding the vegetable broth. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat after it reaches a boil and simmer, covered, until the sunchokes won’t hold a fork when pierced. The smaller you cut the sunchokes the less time this will take.
When the sunchokes are tender, kill the heat and let stand for a few minutes to cool. Using a blender, process the soup until smooth. Pureeing hot soup is a pretty easy, but can hurt a whole lot if it gets on you, so use caution and work with a little bit at a time.
Return the now smooth mix to the pot and reheat over medium heat. Stir in cream and season with salt and white pepper to your taste. I like to serve mine with some oyster and shiitake mushrooms sauteed with butter and thyme.