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Sunchoke and Leek Soup

On an early spring day you might find Mary Rapin, of Bliss Gardens Farm and Community Kitchen in Cross Village in her kitchen stirring up a pot of Sunchoke and Leek soup. Mary loves the sunchoke, also known as Jerusalem artichoke, for its nutty flavor and because it is available nearly year round (it can overwinter beneath the soil). On the nutrition side, this tubular relative of the sunflower is packed with iron, potassium, phosphorous and vitamin C. Simple to grow, sunchokes are also available in most well-stocked produce sections and at spring farmers markets. As for the leeks in this recipe, find those on a walk in the woods when the snow melts.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 leeks (use wild ones if available) halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise
  • 1 & 1/2 to 2 lbs sunchokes, skin on, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried or a handful chopped fresh, tarragon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 cups broth, chicken or vegetable
  • Optional: seasonal greens such as arugula, spinach, or dandelion, chopped
  • Optional: sautéed chopped mushrooms or bacon for topping

Preparation

Heat butter and olive oil over medium heat in soup pot. Add the leeks and stir and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the sunchokes, celery, carrot, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Turn heat up to high and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the tarragon and bay leaves and cook another minute until fragrant. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and discard bay leaves. Reserve about 1/3 of soup in the pot and pour 2/3 into blender and blend until smooth. Add back to pot and stir. If desired, place a handful of greens in the bottom of each soup bowl before ladling in the soup. Add topping if desired and serve.