This time of year, there are lots of small, knobby vegetables at the local farmers' markets. Some of them are Jerusalem artichokes, also known as sunchokes, despite the fact they appear in winter when sun isn't around much.
Maybe they're called sunchokes because they're a cheerful little vegetable, happy to take on whatever flavour you pair them with. I turned mine into soup, then minced some chives over the top. In my next bowl I added a shake of nutmeg and some truffle oil (an olive oil blend) and that was nice too.
This made enough for a cozy little supper for two, with some bread to go with. (That's how they talk in Wisconsin, dangling prepositions left and right.)
If you're not afraid to spend some quality time with a vegetable peeler, here's how to bring some winter cheer into your life:
Jerusalem Artichoke Soup
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon margarine
1 lb Jerusalem artichokes (about 9 or 10), peeled and sliced
2 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cubed
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
3-4 cups vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup soy cream, in all
Optional: snipped chives, nutmeg, truffle oil
In a heavy dutch oven or deep skillet, saute the onion in the margarine (or olive oil, if you'd prefer) for a few minutes until soft. Add the artichokes, potatoes, a glug of olive oil, and the vegetable stock. Turn heat to high and add the bay leaf, garlic, tarragon, and salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer the soup until the potatoes and artichokes are done, about 20 minutes.
Pour the mixture into a food processor or blender. Remove the bayleaf. Whiz until the soup is smooth. Add 3/4 cup soy cream, and blend again until combined.
Return to the pan and bring to a low simmer. If the soup is too thick, add a cup of water to thin it out.
When the soup is heated through, spoon into bowls, and if desired, add more soy cream in a swirly pattern. Garnish with chives, nutmeg, or truffle oil as desired.
Note: While the peels of Jerusalem artichokes are edible, if yours are dirty like mine it's best to peel them. If your vegetable stock is salted, cut down on the salt. Use non-hydrogenated margarine or olive oil.