Dear Americans – it is not often that a recipe has names in its title that are used so differently between the States and the UK. Jerusalem artichokes are sunchokes. Rocket is arugula.
There is a wonderful all-organic, all-local greenmarket that is open on Saturdays just a few minutes walk from our new apartment. I really want to support local farmers and cook with organic, seasonal produce, but I have difficulty with greenmarkets. I find myself buying too many different fruits and vegetables, and not enough of any one type. I am someone who still cooks primarily from recipes, which means that I usually don’t have much of an idea of what I need for my next meal until I have looked up an ingredients list. The problem is that I don’t know what I am going to be able to use until I see what the market has on offer, by which time it is too late to look up potential recipes, so I don’t know how much to buy, or what other ingredients I should be looking out for. I’m still not entirely sure how one combats this problem: research recipes in between multiple trips to the market in a day? Give up and resign yourself to the fact that you will always have to buy some veggies from the supermarket to complement the ones you picked up at the market? Learn hundreds of recipes off by heart that happen to combine produce that is in season at the same time?
On this trip we came back with two red cabbages, two bags of fresh mushrooms (chestnut and portobello), one bag of mixed dried mushrooms, a bag of mixed greens, a bag of Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes), a carton of eggs, and ten apples. Also pots with thyme, mint and rosemary to grow on the windowsill of the kitchen. I thought I was over-buying and really tried to restrain myself (well, Nick tried to restrain me), but we managed to eat the Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes) and one of the apples within three hours of getting home. The mushrooms will all be used up in one lasagne, accompanied by the salad. And god knows what I will do with the cabbage.
When we got home, I sat down with some of the beautiful recipe books we recently received as wedding presents, and tried to find a recipe that would use some of the items we had just bought, but would not require going out to buy more ingredients. This was not an easy task as, having recently moved, we have very little food in our kitchen at the moment. To my surprise and great satisfaction, I found this recipe in the Ottolenghi cookbook – not only did it call for exactly the quantity of Jersualem artichokes (sunchokes) I had just bought (or at least it did when halved, to serve two), but it was going to use up the two remaining spring onions (scallions) and the rapidly aging rocket (arugula) we already had in the fridge.
I normally like to modify recipes a little when I am posting them on The Standard, but in this case I have stuck pretty closely to the original. There is a lot of garlic in it, but once cooked it is not overpowering, and I strongly advise you stick to the suggested quantity. The soup is delicious, with an unusual flavour – rich, sweet and tart. It made a wonderful lunch on a wintry Saturday.
(Sunchoke and Arugula Soup)
400g (14oz, around 8) Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes)
A pinch of salt
500ml vegetable stock
5 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 spring onions (scallions)
50g (1.8oz) rocket (arugula), plus more for garnish
1 small egg
175g (6oz) Greek yoghurt (I used fat-free natural yoghurt and it was fine, though probably not as good)
Peel the jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes). Wash well and chop them into roughly 1cm cubes. Place in a large pot with a pinch of salt, vegetable stock, crushed garlic, and rocket (arugula). Bring to boil, and then leave boiling for 25 minutes, until the Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes) are soft (you can test this by inserting a knife into one cube).
While the soup is boiling, slice the spring onions (scallions) in half lengthwise, and then chop finely. Put to one side.
Whisk together the egg and yoghurt in a large bowl. When the soup has boiled for 25 minutes, turn the heat down to low. (You can add a little more water if there isn’t much liquid remaining). Add one ladle of the soup to the yoghurt mixture, and beat in well with a wooden spoon. What you want is to increase the temperature of the yoghurt gradually so it doesn’t curdle. Beat in a few more ladles of soup until it about half of it is incorporated with the yoghurt mixture. Pour the mixture back into the pot with the rest of the soup, and allow to heat up, very slowly, until just boiling – keep stirring well the entire time. When the soup reaches a low boil, allow it to cook for two minutes, then take off the heat.
Stir in the chopped spring onion (scallion) and taste. Add lots of black pepper and salt to taste (I found that it didn’t need any more salt). Top with the remaining rocket (arugula). Serve immediately, while hot.