Sometimes, you just need soup.
Even with spring on the horizon and a warm blush in the air, we still have rainy, windy, chilly days here in Seattle. Those days are soup days.
One late night last week, long after most folks had eaten and were sinking in to watch prime time television, Craig and I were instead standing in the kitchen hovering over this soup, passing spoons and ideas back and forth.
He has an incredible palate. His job demands it. I trust his opinion on flavors, balance and texture immeasurably, especially when it comes to creating gluten-free counterparts to common gluten recipes like pies, biscuits and baked goods.
So there we stood, warming the soup, and stirring in some garam masala, preserved lemon, and grated ginger.
I love this collaboration.
Labneh is a strained yogurt, similar to Greek yogurt but even more thick. It’s rich and tangy and balances the warmth and nuttiness of the sunchokes. I found a sheep’s milk variety at the farmers market, but it can easily be substituted with Greek yogurt or even sour cream. I added a generous dollop to the top of each bowl and swirled it in as I ate the soup. You could easily whisk the yogurt with a dash of milk or cream to thin it slightly and then swirl it into the soup before serving.
Sunchokes, also often called Jerusalem artichokes, are starchy tubers in the sunflower family. They’re in season from the fall through the early spring. They have a crispy texture, similar to a water chestnut, but soften more like a potato when roasted.
This soup is thinner and easy to slurp, but still hearty and satisfying. I served it with my bacon, bleu cheese and parsley biscuits, but crackers or even a simple grilled cheese sandwich would pair beautifully as well. This is also a soup that gets better as it sits, so the flavors can fully mesh. I enjoyed it even more the day after I made it.
- Cannellini beans
- Chicken stock (homemade, from my poached chicken)
- Labneh strained yogurt
- Preserved lemons
Soup is a lot like family. Each ingredient enhances the others; each batch has its own characteristics; and it needs time to simmer to reach its full flavor.
— Marge Kennedy
Sunchoke Soup with White Beans, Labneh and Chives
1 pound sunchokes, scrubbed clean and chopped
1 head garlic
Salt and pepper
1 onion, diced
2 cups cooked cannellini beans
6 cups stock or broth (chicken or veggie is best)
¼ of preserved lemon, seeds removed, skin and flesh diced
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
Preheat the oven to 400°. Slice the top off of the garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap tightly in tinfoil or a small lidded ramekin. Toss the diced sunchokes with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast, stirring the ‘chokes halfway through, for 35-40 minutes until they are soft and golden brown.
Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent. Stir in the stock or broth. Add the cooked sunchokes, beans and 3-4 cloves of the roasted garlic. (Reserve the rest of the roasted garlic to use in another recipe.) Add the preserved lemon, garam masala, grated ginger and cayenne. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Let everything cook together for 15-20 minutes.
Remove the pot from heat and allow the soup to cool slightly. Puree the soup using an immersion blender or, working in batches, puree in a regular blender. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt or pepper if necessary.
Serve with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of chives. Enjoy with crackers, crusty bread, or biscuits.