What’s for dinner?  v16.27: Sunchoke soup

What’s for dinner? v16.27: Sunchoke soup

What’s for dinner?  v16.27: Sunchoke soup

Freshly harvested sunchokes

Sunchokes are the edible tubers of Helianthus tuberosis, a type of sunflower. They look like ginger root with a bumpy texture and thin skin and have a nutty, sweet taste. Tonight I do a show and tell about my (very successful!) Experience of growing them and share a recipe for a delicious, healthy soup.

Sunchokes are native to North America and were cultivated by native tribes who called them “sun roots”. After being introduced to Europe, Sunchoke became “Girasole”, the Latin name for sunflower. It is believed that the moniker “Jerusalem Artichoke” came from a corruption of this Italian name. It won favor in French kitchens in the 17th century. Before potatoes were commonly planted, it was Sunchoke that accompanied meat dishes and stews in Europe and the United States. Sunchoke, still grown and grown in home gardens in France, was most popular during World War II when food was rationed, and Sunchokes, rutabagas, and other root vegetables were more common on dinner plates. Sunchokes, now grown mainly in the south of France, still go by a number of different names such as Sunroot and Topinambour.

https://www.specialtyproduce.com/produce/Sunchokes_2023.php

I got to exchange a bucket of sunchoke tubers at a garden exchange. The first thing I learned about raising these babies is that they are INNVASIVE. Once established, they are almost impossible to eradicate. A bed of sunchokes produces an abundant supply of food rich in iron, potassium and trace minerals, which can be dug up as needed throughout the winter, making them a popular crop among survivors and homesteaders.

I decided to use a separate raised bed that already contained a palm tree, perennial at four o’clock and some catnip. I buried about two dozen tubers in the ground in January 2021 and waited. Flower stalks appeared in late May and quickly took over, suffocating the catnip and at four o’clock. They got taller and taller and finally bloomed in late August.

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Late summer sunchokes

The flowers were lovely and very popular with my pollinating friends.

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Sunchoke flowers

Fast forward to early November. The flowers are dead left and I can not wait to find out what grows under them. I tipped a stalk up and… everyone😍

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So many tubers

Frost makes them taste sweeter, so I harvested what was visible and put the rest to bed again. Today, 2 months later and after a low morning level of 22F, I checked somewhere else and OMG! I did not even need a shovel.

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Hello World

This one is as big as my HAND!

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The tubers are surprisingly easy to clean. I have soaked them in cold water for 10 minutes and the dirt rinsed away, if there is any left between the bulbs, they just need to be broken apart and rinsed again. This is just under 2 lbs.

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To the recipe! This soup has a wonderful silky texture and an earthy, nutty taste.

Sunchoke soup

3 tablespoons butter

1 large onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 medium-sized carrots, peeled and chopped

2 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and chopped

4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

½ teaspoon dried thyme

2 lbs sunchokes, cleaned and cut into 1 “pieces

1 liter of chicken or vegetable broth

A touch of hot sauce (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

French fried onions or croutons (for garnish)

Instructions

Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a soup pot or electric pressure cooker. Add onion and celery and sauté for 5-6 minutes. Add carrots, potatoes, garlic and spices and sauté a few more minutes until fragrant.

Add sunchokes and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer under lid for 45-60 minutes. If using a pressure cooker, cover and cook at high temperature for 15 minutes, then release the pressure after 10 minutes.

Cool for a few minutes, then use a hand blender to puree the vegetables until smooth and silky soft. Adjust spices and serve hot garnished with crispy onions, croutons or another topping of your choice. Serves 4-6 servings.

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One warning: sunchokes should never be eaten raw. They contain a carbohydrate called inulin (not insulin) that can cause gastrointestinal problems, prompting some to call them “fart shocks”. I have never had a problem when they are overcooked, but those with sensitive stomachs may want to proceed with caution.

Do you want to try growing your own? Tubers can be purchased through a number of online seed suppliers, or I would be happy to share if you are in the US. What’s for dinner with you?

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