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).
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.