Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Only Choking!

Zuppa di Topinambur & Pasta Integrale
Jerusalem Artichoke & Full Grain Noodle Soup

Soup- always a good meal when it's cold and miserable outside and always something you can put together from even the most basic of ingredients. And yet- people tend to always eat the same-old-same-old thing!

You can tell me it's because you know and love your favorites... but honestly! Life is too short for that! Try something new now and again and you may well stumble across something as wonderful as this!

Call them Jerusalem artichokes, or sun chokes, or topinambur... but these gnarly root vegetables are delicious and do indeed have a flavor reminiscent of artichokes, whilst being much easier of course to prepare. 

Once peeled, white and plain and looking like potatoes, they may even fool you into thinking that they can be treated in the same way- but they have less starch than potatoes, making their consistency not quite as smooth and pleasing as a regular potato. So this evening, I decided to concentrate on their flavor and use them in a slightly different way than usual.

For 2 bowls of soup, I needed 3 Jerusalem artichokes, 1 onion, 2 carrots, 1 stalk of celery, a good handful of whole wheat pasta (but regular pasta or rice would also be fine), a little fresh ginger and parsley, salt, pepper and olive oil. And about 45 minutes of time.

The result was a simple, comforting, mild and flavorful soup, with a rich artichoke and ginger flavor that is complemented by the olive oil at the end. It IS as simple as it sounds- but when something tastes so pleasant in its simplicity... why spoil it?

I began by sweating the "holy trinity" of union, carrot and celery, all finely diced, in a little olive oil, together with just 1" or so of equally finely chopped ginger.

Once the onion had become translucent, I added the Jerusalem artichokes, which I peeled and grated very coarsely. I stirred them in briefly with the other ingredients, seasoned with salt and pepper, then deglazed the saucepan with plenty of boiling water- enough for my 2 bowlfuls of soup and brought everything to the boil.

Once boiling, I reduced the heat to a gentle simmer, put on the lid and let it cook away for the next 30 minutes, with a bay leaf added for a hint of aroma- an afterthought... but a good one!

After 30 minutes, I checked the seasoning and yes, it needed a little more salt (it's always the way!) and added my little noodles. it really doesn't matter which kind of noodles you add, but I had these nice, slightly nuttier-flavored whole wheat tubes. So in they went!

Once the soup had come back up to the boil- I lowered the heat to a simmer again and let the noodles cook for the next 10 minutes- And in the meantime, all I needed to do was finely chop a little parsley, get my olive oil ready, grab a bowl... and get ready to serve up my finished soup!

With a sprinkle of freshly, finely chopped parsley, freshly ground pepper and a drizzle of raw, extra virgin olive oil... this was a lovely taste of the Mediterranean again! Like the simple, vegetable noodle soups I grew up with... and pleasing through and through!

It doesn't need to be any richer, fancier or fussier than this- the ginger, artichoke and olive oil flavors are wonderful all by themselves! But better still all together as one!

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