Cream of Sunflower Choke Soup with Crispy Prosciutto and Minced Rosemary
By Heidi Allison
This dish puts a modern spin on the classic Bistro menu item: Cream of Sunchoke Soup. Commonly eaten in France, sunchokes are the tan-colored, thin-skinned underground spreading roots (rhizomes) of the yellow sunflower. This nutritious tuber looks like a knobby piece of thin-skinned young ginger, galangal, but tastes like a nutty, sweet fingerling potato with a hint of oyster and a grace note of earthy soil. Sophisticated and complex, this soup is a great addition to your culinary repertoire!
Indigenous to North America, sunchokes also go by the monikers Jerusalem artichoke, girasole or sunflower choke. This seasonal root vegetable is best from October through March, and can be boiled, steamed smashed or fried. But … it shines in a velvety, cream-style soup, with the counterpoint flavors of rosemary and salty ham as its garnish. For those that don't like pork, try a top drizzle of slow-roasted French hazelnut oil, with a light dusting of freshly chopped, roasted hazelnuts as a garnish, which enhances its nutty flavor.
The one caveat with sunchokes is they contain a type of carbohydrate, Inulin, which some find difficult to digest, and may experience gas. Start with appetizer portions, and make sure to boil the sunchokes in a large amount of water, for at least 15 minutes, drain, then rinse several times. Place parboiled sunchokes in the refrigerator overnight before adding to the chicken stock, caramelized onions and Half and Half.
The health benefits of this tuber are linked to lowering high blood pressure (good source of potassium) and improving gut health — its strong prebiotic properties support the good gut bacteria.
Makes: 6 appetizer portions (48 ounces)
1 package of Melissa’s Sunflower Chokes, about 1 pound, rinsed and lightly scrubbed with a vegetable brush
2 Limes or Lemons, cut in half
1 tablespoon Kosher Flake Sea Salt
2½ tablespoons Unsalted Butter
1 tablespoon White Granulated Sugar
3 large Shallots, thinly sliced
½ large White Onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 large cloves Garlic, thinly sliced
2 cups Homemade (or good-quality store bought Chicken Bone Broth)
1 cup Half & Half
4 slices Good-Quality Italian Prosciutto
1 tablespoon Fresh Rosemary, minced
Place 2 slices of prosciutto in the air fryer and lightly spray with avocado cooking spray. Set temperature at 350 and cook till crispy - about 8 minutes. Remove and set aside. (This can also be done in a toaster oven on a foil-lined baking sheet, temperature set at 350ºF for 7-8 minutes.)
Fill an 8-quart stock pot to 3/4’s from the top with water, about 30 cups. Heat over high heat till water comes to a rolling boil. Add sunflower chokes, cut limes or lemons, after squeezing their juice into water, kosher salt and stir. Return to a boil, and cook sunflower chokes for at least 15 minutes, or until soft in the center but not mushy.
Drain and rinse sunchokes, then discard cooking liquid. Place sun chokes in a container, allow to cool, then cover and place in the refrigerator overnight.
Place 2 tablespoons butter into a 12-inch sauté pan and heat on medium till melted. Add sliced onions and shallots, dust with sugar, then mix with a fork to combine. Reduce heat to low and cook the onion mixture till soft, sweet and caramelized (onions should be a golden/brown color). Add remaining butter to the pan and allow to melt, then add garlic slices and cook till garlic is soft — about 1-2 minutes.
Add chicken stock to pan, Half & Half and heat till simmering. Cut sunflower chokes into ⅓ inch slices and add to the pan. Heat till simmering and continue to simmer for about 4 minutes, or, until sunchokes are heated through.
Remove from heat, and add half of sunflower choke and liquid mixture to a Ninja Bullet (or, high-speed blender), and run through one “Blend” cycle. Repeat with remaining soup mixture. This soup may be hot, so open bullet with a towel wrapped over top when you unscrew it to prevent a hot splatter burn.
Place sunflower choke puree in a serving bowl and top with 2 slices of crispy prosciutto per serving and dust with fresh, minced rosemary.