When I first moved to France, heading to the weekly market was my way of getting to know the community here. Every wednesday I would grab my basket and walk down to the town center to stock up on local fruits and vegetables. The market has a little bit of everything – cheese, bread, meat, flowers, olives, eggs, local produce and also produce imported from neighboring countries like Italy and Spain. It became my weekly ritual and slowly the vendors started recognizing me, we would chat briefly about the weather, new produce or our weekends away. It felt good to support the local businesses and I began seeing familiar faces around town throughout the week. It all slowly started to feel like home.
Last year I made a bet with my husband that I would try every single winter vegetable from the market over the course of the season. Have you ever heard of cardoons? Me neither. Not all vegetables were repeats, but thankfully our little challenge made me discover my love for the jerusalem artichoke. Also known as sunchokes, or topinambour here in France, the jerusalem artichoke a little wobbly root vegetable that can be a bit scary looking, and there is effort in peeling them, but the flavor is worth it. They have a fresh, vibrant flavor much like the artichoke, so they make for a very bright and sunny soup during the winter months. I couldn’t resist adding fennel here, because it is one of my favorite vegetables and the toasted almonds round the soup out with fragrance and texture. I used un-waxed Italian sorrento lemons from the market, but if you are living in north america, meyer lemons will work too.
Fresh, seasonal produce can stand on its own, so while the ingredient list is small, the flavor is anything but. Much love from the Alps x
JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE SOUP WITH FENNEL, ALMONDS + LEMON
1 cup slivered almonds
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 bulbs fennel, core remove and bulb sliced, fronds reserved for garnish
5 cups jerusalem artichokes, peeled + chopped
Sea salt + black pepper, to taste
6 cups vegetable stock
Juice and zest of one unwaxed sorrento lemon (or meyer lemon as noted)
Place almonds in a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Toast and stir continuously to prevent burning. Once almonds are golden brown and fragrant, remove from the pot and let cool.
Add olive oil to the now empty pot and return over medium heat. Add shallots and fennel, and sautée until soft, about 5 minutes. Add jerusalem artichokes, toss to coat and combine and season with salt and pepper. Add toasted almonds and enough stock to cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover until artichokes are soft and tender and easily pierced through with a fork. About 30 minutes. Remove and let cool before blending.
Blend using your favorite method, I prefer a high speed blender but an immersion blender works as well. Add lemon juice and zest as your blending. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed, or add more stock/water to thin.
Serve garnished with toasted almonds, fennel fronds, lemon zest, black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
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