Smooth & creamy Jerusalem Artichoke soup with Chestnut Pesto

Homemade Jerusalem Artichoke soup Inspired by our delicious opening course at a recent gourmet evening hosted and chef’d by Robert Owen Brown in Manchester, I set my heart on making my own Jerusalem Artichoke soup. Armed with two packs of the nobbly veg & ingredients for a recipe by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, last night’s peeling, boiling & blending extravaganza resulted in quite the most delicious, velvety smoothness, enhanced by a piquant chestnut pesto – great for using up that last box left in the larder from Christmas.

I deliberately chose packs of the long variety as the small ones are devils to peel but Hugh FW suggested par boiling them to make the skins come off easier if you only have super knobbly ones, as it were. They’re ugly buggars aren’t they, hard to believe they create such a stunning flavour.

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SOUP Ingredients – 2 large bowls / 4 small

50g unsalted butter

1kg Jerusalem Artichokes, peeled & cut up into 2cm (approx) pieces

350g leeks, topped & tailed, thinly sliced and washed

200g potato, peeled and cut into same size as the artichokes

1 medium onion, chopped

2 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 litres chicken or veg stock ( I used two chicken Knorr cubes for this)

120ml double cream

Salt & black pepper

Rapeseed or olive oil – as finishing garnish

SOUP Method

Melt the butter in a large, heavy bottomed frying pan (mine is 28cm across). Cook all the vegetables & garlic over a low heat for about 20minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure they don’t burn or stick.

Add the stock, bring to the boil then reduce to a very low heat to simmer, partially covered, for 30mins. If your heat is too high, you’ll lose all your stock & hence the soup liquid.

(Whilst this is happening, maybe make your chestnut pesto – the perfect time to do it!)

Test the artichokes to see if they are soft enough to mash, then allow to cool slightly. Liquidise in two or three batches until very smooth and return to a pan before adding the cream and warming gently through.

Serve with a swirl of pesto and a drizzle of your chosen oil. Honestly, it’s gorgeous!

P.S. It’s hard to imagine that such a sophisticated dish could result in the farting power that is does, suffice to say, don’t be planning any close encounters with bosses / bank managers / people of importance the next day. This is not just us btw, it’s a known JA fact.

PESTO 

100g Chestnuts (Half a pack of Merchant Gourmet or similar)

75g hard cheddar, grated

1 small garlic clove, minced

1/2 good rock salt & pinch of black pepper

50g freshly chopped flat leaf parsley, or you could use basil, or a mixture of the two

Juice of 1/2 lemon

150ml olive oil and 50ml groundnut or extra virgin rapeseed oil (or 200ml of olive oil)

Pulse the first four ingredients in a food processor until they’re reduced to a fine breadcrumb like texture, then add the parsley and continue until well mixed & chopped. Add the lemon juice and oil and process slowly until it’s the consistency you like. Some people like their pesto finely chopped, others more chunky!

Use a teaspoon per serving of soup, a little more if yours is an extra big bowl 😉

The pesto can be kept in a clean sealed jar or lidded plastic container in the fridge for a couple of weeks – it’s delicious with fresh pasta or spread on oven baked crostini.

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