Week 7: Creamy Winter Vegetable Soup

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Sunchokes

When my coworker told me to write about sunchokes (sidenote: I love when people have ingredient suggestions! If you have one, please leave a comment here or email me!), I didn’t really know what a sunchoke was. That’s the beauty of this blog: I learn, I write, you learn, and we all expand our horizons.

What is a sunchoke? It’s a tuber from a sunflower plant. Pretty good deal to plant in your garden – you get pretty flowers and edible tubers that are rich in inulin, which breaks down into fructose instead of glucose (good for diabetics) and also has prebiotic properties (good bacteria promoting, but bad because this may leave you with some extra “wind,” especially if you eat a lot). They also have a lot of iron, vitamin C, phosphorus and potassium. You can use sunchokes where you would otherwise use potatoes, jicama or water chestnuts. Raw, they have a similar texture as a raw potato, and taste like a cross between a sunflower seed and an artichoke (they are also called Jerusealum artichokes).

Sunchoke Butternut Soup

Honestly, they are kind of a pain to work with. You have to get all the dirt off, then peel the very knobby and bumpy skin, which may make you lose some product. Once you get past that, it’s easy though. I decided to use them in a soup, and this was the first time I’ve ever made soup from scratch (I’m just not a soup eater typically) and it came out really good. If you like them raw, you could add them into salads, salsa, chutney, etc. You could cook them in practically any way; roast, grill, puree into mashed or scalloped potatoes, steam, stir fry.

Sunchoke and Butternut Squash Soup

Prep time: 30-45 mins (depending on how fast you are at chopping and how dirty your sunchokes are)

Cook time: Around 1 hour

Yields: Around 4 servings

  • A few T olive oil
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 lb. sunchokes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 2 t. nutmeg
  • 1 T oregano
  • 4 C vegetable broth
  • 1 ¼ C milk (I used 2%)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 dashes of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 C walnuts, chopped

Heat oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pot) and butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, cooking until onion is translucent. Add the rest of the vegetables, nutmeg, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook for around 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add vegetable broth, then cover and simmer for around 1 hour. You really only need to cook until vegetable are all fork tender, but the longer you cook, the more flavorful the soup will be.

Once the vegetables are fork tender, you can puree the mixture, using either a stick blender inside the pot or by pouring the soup into a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth, then return to pot if you didn’t use a stick blender. Over low heat, add the milk, stirring until it is completely incorporated. Add more nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste and add the cayenne pepper.

Preheat oven to 350°. Spread chopped walnuts over a baking sheet and bake for 5-10 minutes, or until lightly browned and fragrant. Check often – they burn quickly!

Serve soup with a sprinkle of the roasted walnuts on top and a sprig of parsley if you have some on hand.

7 Responses to “Week 7: Creamy Winter Vegetable Soup”
  1. Wheels writes:

    Ooooh!

    1.) I love your bowl, where’s it from?

    2.) I’m so giving my dad this recipe bc he loves making soups!

    3.) What did the soup end up tasting like?

  2. Stephanie writes:

    Good questions! I can’t believe I forgot to put how it tastes – honestly, this post was supposed to go up on Sunday but I mixed up the dates. Luckily it was pretty much done!

    1) Not sure, it was a present a long time ago. I think Russ got a set of these snowflake dishes from his dad.

    2) Yay! Let me know what he thinks of it.

    3) For some reason, I’m having a hard time verbalizing what it tasted like. It had a kind of unique flavor to it, which I’m sure was the sunchokes. It was very creamy, kind of thick, and both savory while having a little sweetness (from the squash). People say sunchokes taste like a cross between artichokes and sunflower seeds, and I think to me the soup tasted a bit like sunflower seeds. The cayenne pepper added a tiny kick, and the walnuts added a nice deep, roasted flavor.
    A couple of other people tasted it too, so I’ll get their opinions and add them later.

  3. Amanda writes:

    WOW! I have never heard of those either… thanks for the lesson today! I feel smarter! ;)

    Blessings-
    Amanda

  4. Stephanie writes:

    I know, I thought they were ginger in the store! Glad you learned something too :)

  5. Danica writes:

    Oh I have a good one! I thought this stuff I found at Whole Foods was ginger and then I thought it was turmeric. But it was galangal root! Try THAT!!

    I think I put it in a salad (sliced thinly) along with fresh water chestnuts and stuff and it was good. It tasted crazy tho!

  6. Danica writes:

    Sunchokes scare me! I think I want them to taste more than artichokes than they are going to because they are not artichokes. Maybe if I mashed them I would be happy because they tasted more like artichokes than like mashed potatoes?

    This soup sounds awesome and your pictures are so pretty!

  7. Stephanie writes:

    I think they would be good mashed or scalloped, maybe mixed with some potatoes too. Add in cheese (or butter) and almost anything is good, right?

    Thanks for the idea! I will look for galangal root. I’ve never heard of it before.

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