Spiced Sunchoke Soup
I am still in the aftermath of my holiday party, and this is yet another dish I served that people seemed to really enjoy. Yes, soup can be a fantastic hors d’oeuvres – I served this in little demitasse cups with some chopped cilantro and homemade croutons. It looks elegant, and you can make it in advance and keep it warm, which for me is ideal when other items require more maintenance…
Sunchokes are root vegetables and look a lot like ginger, though taste nothing like it. They have been popping up all over menus in NYC and Brooklyn. My husband and I hit this adorable new place in Fort Greene called Roman’s (amazing, chocolate sorbet to die for), and he was shocked to see sunchoke soup on the menu. He acted like they were biting my style (I almost cried laughing)…and I had to explain that they are seasonal and delicious and that’s why they are everywhere.
You might also see sunchokes labeled as Jerusalem artichokes, and their flavor does resemble the artichoke heart though they are not related at all. I picked mine up from the Union Square Greenmarket, and they were perfectly sweet and creamy. This soup incorporates some key spices – cumin, coriander, and turmeric – that really bring warmth to the dish but still allow the signature sunchoke flavor to shine through. The coconut milk bumps up the sweetness and gives it a beautiful, creamy mouth-feel, and the shot of lemon juice brightens up all of the flavors. This is easy enough as a go-to weeknight soup but refined enough for a dinner or holiday party. Enjoy!
Serves 4 to 6 / Yields approximately 5 ½ cups
3 tbsps unsalted butter
1 onion, finely diced
½ tsp ginger, minced
1 small green chili, finely chopped (preferably thai or serrano, to your heat preference)
¾ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp turmeric
pinch of cayenne
3 or 4 cloves garlic, minced
7 medium-sized (12 oz) sunchokes, scrubbed, peeled, and thinly sliced*
1 bay leaf
2 ½ cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 can coconut milk
a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice
salt to taste
chopped cilantro or parsley
Heat a dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat and add butter. When foam subsides, add onion and a bit of salt to draw out the moisture. Let sweat for a minute or so. Add ginger, green chili, cumin, coriander, turmeric and cayenne. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes until onions are translucent and super soft. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
Add sunchokes and stir to combine. Let cook for about 2 minutes until sunchokes begin to soften. Add bay leaf and stock, bring up to a boil, and lower to a simmer. Simmer covered for 20 to 25 minutes. You want the sunchokes to easily break apart with your wooden spoon, which will really depend on how thinly you sliced them.
Remove bay leaf, and, in a blender or using a hand blender, puree until smooth. Add coconut milk, lemon juice, and adjust seasoning to taste. Serve hot with a little fresh chopped cilantro on top.
*After peeling the sunchokes, keep them submerged in cold water until ready to use. Thinly slice right before throwing into the pot.