Jerusalem Artichoke and Porcini Mushroom Soup

I made this soup several years ago for a dinner party and I can’t believe I haven’t made it since. I thought about it again this week and realised I didn’t know where  the recipe was.  Casting my mind back over five years, I felt exhausted at the prospect of flicking through a metre high pile of cooking magazines to find it, so I just re-created it.

Jerusalem artichokes (which are not an artichoke at all) have an intense flavour that can often overpower a dish, but in porcini mushrooms they have found their perfect match. You’ll find dried porcini mushrooms (or ceps) in packets at delis, markets and continental grocers.    Jerusalem artichokes are just coming into season now.

Make this soup today, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.  It is rich, hearty, tasty and very special.

Serves 6

  • 4 Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and sliced.
  • 20 g porcini mushrooms (they usually come in 10g packets)
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 1 leek, washed well and sliced thinly
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, and the yellow centre leaves
  • 500 ml (2 cups) homemade chicken stock
  • 500 ml water
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage leaves
  • a few sprigs thyme
  • olive oil
  • sea salt & pepper
  • Creme fraiche or parmesan cheese for serving

Boil the kettle. Put the dried porcinis in a small jug or bowl and pour over 1 cup (250 ml) boiling water.  Cover with a dish or lid and let the mushrooms reconstitute – give them about 10 minutes.

Heat some olive oil in a large heavy based saucepan, or stockpot, and add the leaks.  Cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until they are soft.  Add the garlic, celery, bay leaf, dried sage, and picked thyme leaves.  Stir, and cook for a few more minutes until the celery is soft.

Strain the mushrooms and reserve the liquid.  Roughly chop the mushrooms.  Add the potatoes, jerusalem artichokes, mushrooms, stock, water and the liquid from the mushrooms.  Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf, and using a hand held bamix, puree the soup.  You can do this in a blender or food processor but its much messier.

Serve with a swirl of creme fraiche, or a sprinkling of grated parmesan.

BAZ THE WINO SAYS:

Mushrooms? Must be Cab Sav. I can’t drink it without thinking of a sommelier friend who told me of the (alarmingly high) number of diners who have enquired what proportion of the wine was cabernet and what percentage sauvignon, but I digress.
Coonawarra is one of the only Australian geographic regions with any resonance in the international market, and it’s entirely due to the fact that the place was custom-built to grow kick-arse Cabernet. One of the better offerings is Bowen Estate, which is enormously and justifiably popular. Intensely floral, with dark cherry predominating, followed by capsicum and backed by vanilla and spice tones with a slight hint of peppermint and finishing with chalky tannins. Delicious. Get it for about $26 at Dan’s.

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