Friday, March 18, 2016

Foraging Recipes: Roasted Garlic Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

This is one of my favorite vegan soups this time of year. Easy to prepare, smooth of texture, and filled with flavor, Jerusalem artichoke soup with roasted garlic has been a hit with us and our guests for years. 

Better still, it's another great homesteader recipe that cooks up with little oversight, keeps well and can be easily adapted. We often make a batch at the beginning of a week, add coconut milk and curry spices midway through and then even use the remainder as the base for a curry sauce. It freezes well, and can be made into ice cubes for a quick sauce. 

Jerusalem artichokes make a fine native vegetable for a home forest garden, but they're also quite abundant in the wild. I know of three places in downtown Kalamazoo to find large stands, and I frequently see them along roadsides and at the edges of farm fields. This time of year, they're easily identified by last-years stalks. After the winter thaw, they're at their sweetest, and between the chokes and the sweetness of roasted garlic, we've often had guests ask if we used honey to sweeten the soup. 

We've also made this recipe with roasted field garlic and it tasted great. Make a stock with wild thistles, burdock, wild carrot greens, and foraged mushrooms for a 100% "wild" foraged staple dish. (Later, I'll post my recipe for a foraged vegetable stock.) This time of year, add a salad of foraged spring greens for a complete foraged meal. 

Roasted Garlic Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

5 lbs Jerusalem artichokes, washed. 
1clove of garlic. (Substitute field garlic)
1 container of vegetable stock. 

Place Jerusalem artichokes in a pot, cover with water and place on high heat to bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes, then turn down the heat to a slow boil. Now, the wait begins. The inulin in Jerusalem artichokes breaks down with long cook times, and 4 hours is often recommended. After cooking, pour off water and let chokes cool down slightly. We'll be putting them in a blender, and hot ingredients in a cold blender can crack glass.

As the chokes cook, turn the oven to 400 degrees, wrap the garlic in tinfoil and add a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, then put it  in the oven while it heats, for 10 minutes. I've found this is a reliable way to get perfect roasted garlic. 

Combine roasted garlic, chokes in blender with enough broth to blend them, in small batches. Blend to a smooth puree in batches and return them to the pot. French sources often say that Jerusalem artichokes make the smoothest of all veloute soups, so you're looking for a silky smooth texture. Add broth or water to thicken to the desired texture, then add salt and pepper to taste. 

I like to garnish with finly chopped spring greens, such as pepper cress, parsley, and field garlic greens. 

Serve with warm, crusty french bread. 

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