This soup is for the last rays and days of winter. Hearty and delicious, it is full of vegetables that are roasted to bring out the natural sweetness. There's a splash of brandy and a little thyme much like its cousin, French onion soup!
I wondered whether I should put this soup up because I fell victim to the "Is it pretty enough?" trap. It doesn't look like much but then again neither does French Onion soup which is its cousin. Instead of cooked down and caramelised onions, this is made with the effort friendly roasting of more delicate leeks. And as much as I love colour, brown food is some of the tastiest food - hello chocolate and beef stews!
Jerusalem artichokes vs globe artichokes: the two vegetables are entirely different despite the common nomenclature (like pandas and red pandas are so different!!). The two grow in different climates preferring two entirely different types of soil with different nutritional properties.
Jerusalem artichokes (or sunchokes) are a winter vegetable that resemble knobs of ginger but act like potatoes and are actually part of the sunflower family and the edible part is the tuber. Taste-wise it is like a cross between a potato and a globe artichoke heart in flavour and is slightly watery inside and not as dry as a potato. When they are roasted they become very sweet and almost vanillaey in aroma. Because the main starch Inulin is hard to digest it does pass through the digestive system creating a lot of gas so try not to eat it in abundance! They're a good source of fibre, potassium, iron and vitamins B1 and B3.
Globe artichokes (or French or green artichokes) are thistles and resemble a flower. You can steam or fry these. In Rome's Jewish quarter they deep fry globe artichokes (called Carciofi alla Giudia or Jewish artichokes) and they're an amazingly delicious treat!
To eat a steamed artichoke you peel off each leaf and scrape your teeth along the base of each leaf removing the flesh. Once you have finished with all the leaves, the tender, fleshy heart can be eaten in its entirety. They're a good source of soluble fibre, folate, vitamins C and K and magnesium.
Serve this with a fluffy bread like this focaccia. You can do this on top or next to the soup like a French onion soup!
Speaking of not being sure if I should share something, on my Instagram stories I recently shared a story about a recent purchase. It wasn't a sponsored or gifted product, we bought it ourselves. But it has changed our health for the better.
We live in a bottom floor apartment that gets a lot of sun on one side but less on the other and it's the sunless side that often gets black mould on the walls. Black mould is a common problem and it can be very bad for your health if you have asthma, allergies or a weakened immune system. Teddy's dog sitter went to hospital with an infection because she lived in a place with black mould.
It's hard to get out and it requires gutting walls which is difficult in an apartment block so we bought a dehumidifier. It arrived and at first I wasn't particularly happy with it. Reviews said that it was quiet but it was very noisy and we had to move it to a room and close the door.
I'm not asthmatic but I do have some breathing issues and am very sensitive to smells, dust and mould. After using it for a few days I had noticed that my breathing was better. I also haven't gotten sick once during winter and I often do. This may have to do with the fact that I have been limited in my movements due to COVID-19 but hey I'm just happy to be healthy!
And I wasn't sure if I should share it but I shared a video of the amount of water the dehumidifier caught after 6 hours. It was over a litre of water and this is what it collects every single day. In fact I got so many messages about it, I spent hours answering everyone's questions. So hopefully it helps someone else out there who had noticed some similar problems!
So tell me Dear Reader, have you noticed getting less or more sick over the last few months? Have you got a black mould problem and have you tried a dehumidifier?
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? Share your creations by tagging @notquitenigella on Instagram with the hashtag #notquitenigella
Sweet Roasted Fennel & Leek Soup With Jerusalem Artichokes
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 leeks, white part only (save the greens to make a vegetable stock)
- 2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and cored removed
- 500g/1.1lbs Jerusalem artichokes, scrubbed well
- 3 cups/750ml/26.flozs. vegetable, chicken or beef stock
- 1/4 cup/60ml/2flozs. brandy
- Thyme and chives
Step 1 - Preheat oven to 180C/350F and line a large baking tray with parchment. Split the leeks down the centre from top to bottom and place the cored fennel halves and Jerusalem artichokes on the tray. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and roast for 1 hour or until caramelised.
Step 2 - Place the leek and fennel in a pot with the stock (reserve the Jerusalem artichokes) and brandy and simmer for 15 minutes. Using a stick or immersion blender, blitz until you get a puree (you can puree this as smooth or chunky as you like).
Step 3 - Serve with chopped chives, roasted Jerusalem artichokes, a slice of cheese topped bread and a sprig of thyme.