I recently fell in love. No, not with a match made on JDate (I am married) but with a relatively little known ingredient. I am absolutely smitten with Jerusalem artichokes. I am using them in EVERYTHING. I had toyed with them on menus in my restaurants and have written about them in my latest book, Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes (John Wiley and Sons), but I have really fallen head over heels this season with these ugly ducklings of the vegetable world. (There is a lesson in this for everyone on JDate!) I am putting them to use in soups, gratins and purees, and next week for Chanukah I am putting them in my latkes – stay tuned for that recipe next week. Yum!
The name Jerusalem artichoke is actually a misnomer. These bumpy tubers have nothing to do with Jerusalem, nor are they a member of the artichoke family. In fact, they are actually the root of the sunflower plant, which is why they are also known as sunchokes. They have a nutty, earthy flavor similar to an artichoke and when paired with sweet roasted parsnips, it is a match made in soup heaven.
3 large parsnips (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into large pieces
1/2-pound Jerusalem artichokes (about 5)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 medium shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine such as Chardonnay
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
3 cups chicken stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts or hazelnut oil
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Drizzle the parsnip pieces with olive oil. Place the parsnips on the baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes, until soft and lightly browned. Transfer the parsnips to a large sauce pan or stock pot.
3. While the parsnips are roasting, peel and dice the Jerusalem artichokes. Place the pieces in a bowl of cold water with the lemon juice to keep the artichokes from turning dark.
4. Place a small sauté pan over medium-high heat. Lightly coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil. Sauté the shallots until they are slightly browned and soft. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the wine to the pan and cook the mixture for 3 minutes. Add the wine-shallot mixture to the saucepan with the parsnips. Drain the Jerusalem artichoke pieces and add them to the saucepan. Add the thyme and chicken stock to the insert.
6. Simmer for 1 hour until the Jerusalem artichokes and parsnips are very soft.
7. Puree the soup in batches or with an immersion blender until the soup is very creamy. Season with salt and pepper.
8. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with chopped toasted hazelnuts and a drizzle of toasted hazelnut oil.