My intestines, they hurt

Jerusalem artichoke soup

Oh God, kill me now. As I write this I sit gripped with pain, dreading the inevitability that the loud contortions of my small bowel are heralding. Apparently it's the inulin. I take small comfort in the words of John Goodyer who understands my predicament:

Written in 1621 of Jerusalem artichokes, "Which way soever they be dressed and eaten, they stir and cause a filthy loathsome stinking wind within the body, thereby causing the belly to be pained and tormented, and are a meat more fit for swine than men."

And yet a part of me is looking forward to the leftovers. A small percentage of people are intolerant of inulin-rich ingredients such as Jerusalem artichokes, and it bugs the hell out of me that there's a food I can't eat — even moreso that it's a delicious food.

Prior to making this soup, my only experience with Jerusalem artichokes was of buying one years ago by mistake and wondering what the hell was wrong with my ginger. While they might look like ginger, these tubers actually have an earthy taste, and a marvellously creamy texture when boiled for a soup. I could see them pairing very well with mushrooms, and while I'm against arbitrary truffing in an effort to make thing fancier a drizzle of truffle oil would pair quite nicely with that earthiness.

This is a delicious and extremely simple soup to make, and rest assured that only a small number can't handle the hardcore taste sensation that is Jerusalem artichoke.

Jerusalem artichoke soup

Ingredients (makes 2 generous servings):

  • 500g Jerusalem artichokes peeled and sliced
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 1/2 a small celery stick, finely diced
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • Splash of white wine
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp of butter for cooking plus a further tbsp to finish
  • 500ml chicken stock (or vegetable)
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • Healthy grating of nutmeg
  • Salt & white pepper

1. Cook the shallots, celery, and garlic in 2 tbsp of butter over a low heat until translucent, careful not to brown them. Add a splash of white wine and turn the heat up, simmering for 1 minute.
2. Add the sliced Jerusalem artichokes, mustard, nutmeg, chicken stock, and 500 ml of water and bring to a simmer. Simmer for for 20 minutes or until everything is tender, then puree with a stick blender and (optional) strain through a fine mesh sieve.
3. To finish, stir in the cream and remaining butter over gentle heat and season to taste. Drizzle with a grassy extra-virgin olive oil.

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