While I have been a little quiet of late, I haven’t been idle! Earlier this year I started to do some voluntary work at a local community hub in nearby Stratford. This little hub called Segue, combines a café, gallery and shop where you can purchase handcrafted goods produced by local artists. There is also a bookroom and a sustainable living room as well.
When you approach the entrance to Segue you will notice a long narrow alley that runs between two buildings, this is where you might find me working. In this alley there are plantings of various vegetables, fresh herbs and flowers, but at this time of year the garden is looking a little bare. That being said there is a good supply of rhubarb and kale, and plenty of different mints to select from. Over the last couple of weeks, the gardens have been dug over, composted manure added, and finally some plantings for the winter, mainly brassicas, but also some peas and snow peas along a brick wall, where they will benefit from the winter sun, and broad beans where the tomatoes were planted, to help improve the soil.
In preparing the soil, the Jerusalem artichokes were lifted. Having never eaten or cooked Jerusalem artichokes before so I started scouring recipe books for ideas. They are said to be similar to potatoes, but with a nutty flavour. I finally decided to make a soup. As I was making it, new ideas popped into my head, and the final result was absolutely delicious – we will certainly be having this again.
Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Crispy Bacon
This recipe was created with fond memories of my late brother-in-law, Bruce - he just loved Jerusalem artichokes. I think he might have enjoyed a bowl or two.
- 500g Jerusalem artichokes
- 250 diced brown onion
- ¼ cup finely diced celery
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
- 35g butter
- 4 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
- 1 litre chicken stock
- 100g bacon, cut into julienne
- 10g chives, finely chopped, plus extra for serving
- 3 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- Salt & pepper
- Double cream for serving
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium/low heat.
- Add the onion and celery and sauté for 8-10 minutes, until the onion is tender.
- Add the garlic and thyme and sauté for 2 minutes.
- Then add the artichokes and sauté for 5 minutes.
- Pour in the stock and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for another 15-20 minutes, until the artichokes are soft.
- Meanwhile fry the bacon in a frying pan until crispy.
- When the artichokes are soft, puree the soup until it is smooth and creamy.
- Add chives and 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese and stir through.
- Season to taste with freshly grated nutmeg, salt and pepper.
- Serve in individual dishes and top each with a teaspoonful of double cream, some crispy fried bacon, chopped chives and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese
- Time involved:
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Serving Time: 5 Minutes
I have two large boxes of Jerusalem artichokes sitting in our garage, and over the next couple of days they will be cleaned, sorted and bagged because, another thing that I have taken on at Segue is the weekend produce and plant table. The table is normally set up on a Saturday morning, just out the front, but this weekend it will be on Sunday, as it is the annual Shakespeare Festival. I have prepared bags with a copy of the recipe for the soup attached to the front, and will have them on the table for anyone who is interested. The produce sold from the table is all home grown and very, reasonably priced. I am also hoping that we will have plenty of kale and rhubarb to offer along with other bits and pieces and some pot plants too.
So if you are every passing through Stratford, that’s Stratford in Victoria, Australia, take a break and come on in, have a coffee, or just take a wander through the garden. You never know, you might even see me there…
Until next time…
Happy gardening, happy cooking & bon appétit!