If there is one thing I would change about this dish from Ottolenghi’s NOPI, it is that I wish I have made a double portion. I served the soup to my family for dinner on a gray and rainy spring day. A warm creamy vegetable soup was just what we needed to perk us up. Our heads nodded in unison, agreeing that this artichoke soup was complex, with layers and layers of flavor. All were in favor of making a bigger batch, for us, or perhaps, for company sometime soon.
I often wonder how Ottolenghi repeatedly manages to make vegetables so sensational. What makes this artichoke soup a stand out? I say it’s the hazelnut and the spinach pesto, besides the wonderful fresh Jerusalem artichokes.
This is the first thing you do when you make the soup; and a step not to skip, for sure. Hazelnuts are roasted first and added to fresh spinach, tarragon, lemon zest, garlic and green chiles. Blitz that mixture with oil, vinegar and water. This pesto is a huge supporting star of the dish. I made a big batch for later use with meat dishes, soups and salads.
A small amount of the coarsely chopped roasted hazelnuts were set aside to sprinkle on top of the soup. I should have roasted more hazelnuts, served on the side to be added to the soup for anyone who wanted more. Let me tell you, no one can resist having more! The crunch of the nut gives the soup the desirable texture and elevates it by imparting a pleasant smoky and nutty flavor.
Jerusalem artichoke is not something we have often. It has a faint mushroomy and floral note. It makes you ponder. You want to savor its subtle taste, slowly, while sitting back. For people who never have artichoke soup before, you can start a conversation around this single vegetable, even if you are not usually a vegetable lover. So, be prepared to start that dialog on Jerusalem artichoke!
“This vegetable is not truly an artichoke but a variety of sunflower with a lumpy, brown-skinned tuber that often resembles a ginger root. Contrary to what the name implies, this vegetable has nothing to do with Jerusalem but is derived instead from the Italian word for sunflower, girasole.”
|Sprinkle finely chopped chives and serve with final drizzle of olive oil.|
It is potluck week at IHCC. This soup will join other interesting offerings from our current and previous featured chefs at the potluck gathering. Please check them out here.