One of the changes in my diet I'm trying this year is to do a semi-fast once a week (we'll see how long this lasts). On that day, I can eat anything I want as long as it's in a liquid or puree form. Soup, smoothies, and hot tea are in; chocolate cake is out. So I'm doing a lot of soups, which are easy to get in the mood for this time of year and a great way to use the various vegetables I see at the farmer's markets and local stores. This soup plays up the lemony side of sunchokes by sauteeing and cooking everything with two stalks of smashed lemongrass, which are removed before pureeing the soup. It ends up a very elegant, smooth entree or first course. Tip on prepping the sunchokes: if you scrub the sunchokes with a plastic net dish cleaner you can fairly easily remove their thin skins. Then all you need to do is to remove any dark spots with a paring knife. You do not need to remove 100% of the skins - I removed about 75%-80%. Put them in lemon water until you need them to prevent them from turning color. —TheWimpyVegetarian
6 first courses or 4 lunch entrees
large leek, divided, sliced across the width in thin strips, white and light green parts only
shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
garlic cloves, peeled, smashed, and minced
stalks lemongrass, smashed and cut in two to fit in the pot (they need to be easy to retrieve before pureeing the soup)
sunchokes, well-scrubbed to remove most of the skin and sliced 1/8" thick
Important: See the notes above in the summary for prepping tips for the sunchokes. This can take 20-30 minutes to do for 1 lb of sunchokes, so this should be done first. Slice fairly thinly and soak in lemon water to keep them from turning color.
Melt the butter in a soup pot and saute one-half of the leeks and all of the shallots, garlic, and lemongrass until the leeks and shallots are soft and the mixture is very aromatic (about 10-15 minutes).
Add the sunchokes and mix to thoroughly cover the sunchokes with the leeks lemongrass mixture. Cook for another 5 minutes.
Add the broth and bring to a simmer until the sunchokes are tender (about 40 minutes). If you don't have any broth, you can use water. Remove the lemongrass stalks and puree the soup in a blender until very smooth. Pour back into the soup pot and reheat. Add the cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Add lemon zest to taste.
For a garnish, I fried the other half of the leek strips in olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice until they were fairly crispy. I topped the soup with a pinch of them and a few minced chives.