Sunchoke and Crispy Lemon Soup
It can be hard to remember the first time you had one of your favorite foods. I can’t remember the first time I had pizza. Or when I had a fudgy and chewy brownie for the very first time. But I can remember the first time I tried a sunchoke.
I was out to dinner at a reasonably fancy restaurant in town, and ordered the sunchoke soup. I wasn’t entirely sure what a sunchoke was, and I most likely ordered it for the fried pork garnish.
The non-descript, grayish soup that was served to me was one of the most amazing foods I’ve ever eaten. It was luscious, velvety and had the most wonderful subtle artichoke flavor. I had to use all the self control I had to restrain myself from licking the bowl. I would have eaten an entire gallon of that soup if I could.
Every spring I try to recreate this epic soup when sunchokes are available near me. While nothing will likely ever measure up to the first time I tasted the wonderfulness of a sunchoke, this soup recipe is still pretty dang good. For me, any pureed soup need some crunch on top. This soup is topped with fried sunchoke strips and crispy lemon slices. Besides making the soup much prettier to look at, they add a fruity and bitter crunch to each bite.
I got to talking with a former kitchen employee of that restaurant a few years later and asked them about the soup I still dream about. Come to find out, the soup’s secret ingredient was foie gras!
also called sunroot, sunchoke, or earth apple, is a species of sunflower native to eastern North America, and found from eastern Canada and Maine west to North Dakota, and south to northern Florida and Texas.
Sunchoke and Crispy Lemon Soup
This sunchoke soup it is light, creamy and tastes like spring. Though not an artichoke, sunchokes are knobby, thin-skinned root vegetable that look a bit like ginger. They have a slight earthy and nutty flavor with a texture like a potato. They get cooked and pureed with celery root for a slightly sweet and fresh tasting spring soup.
by Megan | April 2019
- Prep time: 20 minutes
- Cook time: 1 hour 20 minutes
- Total time: 1 hour 40 minutes
- 1.5 pounds sunchokes
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced on a mandolin
- 3-4 garlic cloves, smashed gently*
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound celery root (1 large or 2 small)
- 1 small onion
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock, divided *
- Salt and pepper
- Strained greek yogurt or labneh, for garnish*
- Pea shoots or other spring herb
Sunchoke Chips and Crispy Lemons
- Pick out 1 or 2 of the knobbiest sunchokes to fry for chips (since you don’t need to peel them.) Slice thin on a mandolin, and then again into ¼ inch strips. Keep strips in a bowl of cold water to prevent oxidation.
- Heat ½ cup of olive oil over medium low heat in a heavy bottom pot. Add sunchoke strips and fry gently for 10-15 minutes, stirring often. The strips are ready when they start to brown on the edges and curl up. Remove from pot with a slotted spoon and keep on a paper towel-lined plate. Sprinkle with salt.
- Add lemon slices and garlic to oil and gently fry until lemon rinds start to get golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove and set aside with sunchoke chips, keeping remaining oil in the pot.
- Peel sunchokes and celery root and dice into bite-sized pieces. Keep in a bowl of cold water until ready to use.
- Dice the onion and add it, the sunchokes and the celery root to the pot. Turn the heat up to medium high and cook until onions begin to soften and the edges of the veggies start to turn brown, 7-8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Pour in 3 cups of stock, scraping up the bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and let cook for 45 minutes.
- After 45 minutes, check to make sure the veggies are soft. Puree soup using an immersion blender (or in batches in a standard blender.) Add the remaining 1 cup of stock to the puree and stir together. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
- To serve, ladle soup into shallow bowls. Top with a few crispy lemon slices, sunchoke chips, a dollop of yogurt and pea shoots. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Peeling sunchokes can be a time consuming task. Try and purchase the smoothest ones you can find. And don’t worry if they aren’t perfectly peeled. It all gets pureed anyway.
- Using a Y peeler for both the sunchokes and the celery root is the best tool for the job.
Denotes items that we prefer to be organic. Read more about it here: Items to buy organic when grocery shopping.