Thursday, 29 October 2015

From Jerusalem to Bombay!

Zuppa di Topinambur al Curry
Curried Jerusalem Artichoke Soup


Some days you just want a nice bowl of soup, (or two!) and nothing else. Just something warming and comforting and simple. It's that time of the year!

And after a tough day, it was just what the doctor ordered this evening... Simple food, cooked in one pot, with no hard work involved and a whole lot of flavor at the same time... Yes indeed! Sometimes it is absolutely the only thing that will do!


I had bought the lovely Jerusalem artichokes with the intention of making a soup, but with no real idea of exactly what KIND of soup I was going to make out of them... And so I decided, as is so often the case... To do something DIFFERENT to the norm and take a culinary road less travelled.

A road that took me to India... Or at least to my Indian spices!


Actually, the ingredients were very simple and basic. For 2 nice bowls of soup, I needed 5 good sized Jerusalem artichokes, 1 small carrot, 1/2 a stalk of celery, 1 spring onion, about 2" of fresh ginger, parsley, curry powder, and gram (chickpea) flour and 1 cup of milk. Salt, pepper, a pat of ghee (clarified butter) and a spur of the moment spoonful of yogurt... And a little help from my immersion blender. Oh, and just 30 minutes of cooking time.


Jerusalem artichokes have a wonderful flavor, very similar to "real" artichokes, but although they look similar to potatoes when peeled, they have muss less starch and so do not mash up as nicely and smoothly when they are puréed. Which is where the chickpea flour comes in... Because as well as adding a nice, nutty flavor and a traditional Indian component to the soup, it also binds it nicely and makes the mixture smoother and richer. Oh... And one more advantage of adding it- it prevents yogurt or milk from curdling when added into soups or sauces... Which means you can do without cream or coconut milk and create a much lower fat version this way!


Start off by simply peeling and dicing your vegetables and the ginger and sautéing them for a couple of minutes in a little clarified butter. I also like to add the stalks of the parsley, as they add plenty of good depth of flavor.


After 2-3 minutes, add a tablespoon each of gram flour and curry powder. Mine was a Madras blend which was rather hot, so add your curry powder accordingly to suit your own taste.

Continue stirring and frying together for a further 2-3 minutes, until the chickpea flour begins to toast and you start to worry that things may start sticking to your saucepan! In the meantime, boil yourself some water, ready to add nice and hot, so as not to stop the cooking process when you add it.


Add just enough water to deglaze the pan at first and season with salt and pepper.


Now, top up with more boiling water until everything is well covered and reduce to a low simmer. Put on the lid and let it cook away for a further 20 minutes or so, then add the parsley leaves.


Give your soup a preliminary whizz with an immersion mixer, or pop it into your blender and then add a good splash of milk, just before finishing off and serving. Give it a final mix through and you are ready to go!


I added a spoonful of yogurt to mine on the spur of the moment... A very good idea I must say! With a few finely sliced spring onion greens on top and an extra little sprinkle of curry powder for a hint of color and extra "oomph"- and the typical sprig of parsley to make it look pretty... My soup looked sophisticated and sexy... And good enough to eat!


All natural, all fresh and all in one pot... that's my kinda food!


And with the addition of a little milk and yogurt, the heat and spice are nicely mellowed, making it a real joy to eat, as the rich, artichoke flavor of those lovely little roots comes through without being overpowered... Just the way it should be!

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