Jerusalem artichoke soup (sunchoke soup) is an easy blended soup that's flavorful, comforting yet not too heavy. It's easy to make and the lemon and parsley toasted crumb topping pairs perfectly to add extra flavor and contrasting crunch (and makes it look a little fancy, too). Perfect as an appetizer or light lunch.
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As the weather gets cooler, I love making batches of soup for quick and easy lunches. A bowl of soup is just the thing to warm you up after being out in the cold. You can keep them simple, add toppings and make them out of a whole range of ingredients. In other, infinite possibilities to change things up.
The soup in this version is a really simple in itself, but I've dressed it up with some toasted crumbs (pangrattato) that make it feel that bit more special. And the result is such a delicious mix.
What are Jerusalem artickhokes?
The Jerusalem artichoke, also known as a sunchoke or sunroot, is a root vegetable that looks a little like a small, knobly potato or piece of ginger. Despite the name, they are not related to globe artichokes but instead part of the sunflower family.
The "Jerusalem" in the name used in the UK is also a misnomer. This vegetable is not from the Middle East but instead it is native to North America. Although not totally clear, one theory on the name is that it's derived from the Italian for sunflower, girasole.
Despite their North American origins, my general sense is that these are better known and used in the UK than the US, at least from my experience. Maybe it's part of the British love of root veggies like potatoes, carrots and parsnips. Though relatively, they are still not as widely used there as other roots. Which is a shame as they have a lovely flavor.
Jerusalem artichokes can be used both raw and cooked. They have a texture much like other roots but their flavor is definitely unique. Raw, they are closest to water chestnuts, while cooked they become almost a little nutty and are a bit like a cross between potato and globe artichoke.
You store Jerusalem artichokes in much the same way as other roots - at cool room temperature or in the fridge.
Ingredients for Jerusalem artichoke/ sunchoke soup
As I mentioned, this is a simple soup with just a few ingredients:
- Onion - most soups use some form of allium as the base to add flavor to the soup, and this one is no different. You simply soften the onion over a medium heat before adding the sunchokes. This helps bring out their natural sweetness.
- Jerusalem artichokes/ sunchokes - the star of the soup! You gently sauté them with the softened onion before adding your liquid to cook them further.
- Stock - this is your soup liquid. You can use either vegetable stock, to keep it vegetarian (and potentially vegan, if you use oil rather than butter) or chicken stock, as you have and prefer. If at all possible, use homemade and at least lower sodium stock both to be that bit healthier plus I feel it's better for the end flavor.
- Butter/oil and seasoning - I like to cook the vegetables in butter for flavor, but you can also use olive oil if you prefer. Once you have made the soup, you can adjust the seasoning, as needed, with a little salt and pepper. It shouldn't need too much, though. I don't add any herbs or spices to the soup itself as I don't feel it needs any, plus the topping helps with that.
While I haven't added any, if you like you could add a little cream to the soup for an extra smooth, creamy finish.
How to prepare Jerusalem artichokes/ sunchokes
As with other roots, these have a skin which while edible is generally best removed for a lot of dishes, as with this. That can be a little tricky with sunchokes as they can be a bit of an awkward shape. But, just peel as best you can then chop them into chunks.
Like potatoes, the inner flesh can discolor though these possibly even more quickly. So, have a bowl of water on hand as you peel and add the chunks as you chop. The water helps to reduce any discoloration. Then simply drain them before you add them during cooking.
The exact cooking time, once you add the stock, can vary depending on the size of the chunks of Jerusalem artichoke. So, check them now and then by piercing a chunk with a knife - you should have virtually no resistance when they are cooked and tender.
Once the vegetables are cooked, blend up the soup. If you have a stick/hand blender, you can use this right in the pot, otherwise carefully pour the soup into a blender.
Making the lemon parsley pangrattato (crumb topping)
Pangrattato might sound fancy but these are simply Italian-style toasted breadcrumbs. You'll find pangrattato - which means "grated bread" - used as a way to top various dishes in Italian cuisine.
They are sometimes called "poor man's parmesan" since you can use them in much the same way with pasta and more. However they are much better than that humble name suggests.
Often you simply toast the crumbs with olive oil and garlic. These give a great flavor along with the crunch from toasting. Other times, you might add some herbs or other flavors in with the crumbs, such as rosemary or, as here, some lemon zest and parsley.
The lemon and parsley add a lovely freshness that pair really well with the Jerusalem artichokes, and the crumbs add a lovely contrasting texture, too. True, they do start to go soft as they sit in the soup, but if you add just a little at a time you get them as they still have a little crunch. And they're tasty either way.
One of the great things about most soups is that they are great for preparing ahead. And this one is no exception. You can make this soup and store it in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple days, or freeze it for longer storage (around 3 months).
Then, simply place in a pot and warm it through before serving. Just stir now and then to ensure it warms evenly. You can also re-heat in the microwave, though make sure you stir part way through, if you do, to ensure even heating.
The crumbs, too, can be made ahead but store these at room temperature. The toasted crumbs alone will store for a few days. However once you add the lemon zest and parsley, they gradually soften the crumbs and the herbs wilt. The best option is to make the crumbs then add the parsley and lemon right as you using them. Or, at most just a few hours before.
If you plan to add some cream to the soup, don't add this until right before serving as it can be more problematic for storing and re-heating if added earlier. Also, remember you don't add the crumbs to the soup until right before eating.
This Jerusalem artichoke soup is a lovely simple combination, with a gently nutty flavor and smooth texture. It's really easy to make and a great balance of comforting but relatively light. The seasoned crumb topping adds a lovely mix of crunch and bright flavor that pairs perfectly and really elevates the dish. Though don't tell anyone, the crumbs are super easy, too. All perfect for an appetizer, lunch or any excuse.
Try these other tasty smooth soups:
- Cullen skink (a traditional Scottish soup that's essentially a smoked haddock chowder - easy, comforting and packed with great flavor)
- White asparagus soup (a wonderfully smooth soup making the most of white asparagus, another less-used ingredient)
- Wild mushroom soup (really easy, smooth and creamy, packed with delicious mushroom flavor)
- Broccoli and Stilton soup (easy, with great flavors and great if you have leftover Stilton cheese, too)
- Plus get more fall recipes and lunch recipes in the archives.
Jerusalem artichoke soup (sunchoke soup)
- 1 onion small (1 small onion giving around 1 ½ cups chopped)
- 1 clove garlic small, optional
- 18 oz Jerusalem artichokes sunchokes, approximately
- 3 tablespoon butter or oil, if you prefer
- 4 cups vegetable stock or chicken stock
- a little salt and pepper, to taste
For pangrattato (crumb topping)
- 2 slices bread ideally stale or at least day old
- 1 clove garlic small
- 2 tablespoon parsley
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small lemon zest ie zest from 1 lemon
To make soup
- Peel and cop the onion in a medium dice. Peel and finely chop the garlic, if using.
- Prepare a bowl with cold water and set beside you while you prepare the Jerusalem artichokes. Peel the Jerusalem artichokes and cut them into medium-small chunks. As soon as you have peeled and chop one, place the pieces in the bowl of water then move onto the next piece.
- Once all the vegetables are ready, warm the butter in a heavy-based pot/pan large enough to hold all of the vegetables and stock over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook for a couple minutes so that the onion softens and becomes tranlucent.
- Add the garlic and Jerusalem artichokes and stir, ensuring they are well coated in the butter. Cover and leave to sweat/cook for around 3 - 4 minutes.
- Add the stock, cover and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce the heat and continue to simmer for around 20 minutes until the Jerusalem artichokes are tender. Meanwhile, make the pangrattato/crumb topping.
- Meanwhile, make the pangrattato/crumb topping.
To make pangrattato/crumb topping
- Remove the crusts and break up the bread into medium breadcrumbs (they don't need to be very fine). Finely chop the garlic and chop the parsley.
- Warm the olive oil in a skillet over a medium heat and add the garlic. Cook briefly, for only around a minute, just to soften and bring out the fragrance but don't let it burn.
- Add the breadcrumbs and toast for a few minutes until the crumbs are dry and lightly browned all over, stirring and turning regularly.
- Remove the crumbs from the heat and mix through the parsley and lemon zest. Set aside while you finish the soup.
To finish and serve
- Once the Jerusalem artichokes are soft, remove the soup from the heat and blend until smooth. You can either use an immersion/stick blender in the pot or transfer to a blender if needed. Adjust the seasoning with a little salt and pepper, as needed.
- Serve the soup, topped with the pangrattato/crumb topping (only add right before eating and if you like, a little at a time).
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