Saturday, 14 January 2012

Spiced Jerusalem Artichoke and Squash Soup with Parsley Pesto

People are really divided by Jerusalem Artichokes - over on the Riverford forum, people either look forward to their arrival, or they chuck them in the compost as soon as they arrive.  I am definitely in the former camp.  They have 2 downsides - the difficulty of peeling them and the farting - I find husbands are eminently suited to both of these activities.  I love them in soups (artichokes, not husbands) and a quick check of my recipe index throws up some real favourites - with carrots, in a Cranks-inspired recipe with Bouillabaise flavours, and also combined with watercress.  Today's variation is a blend of roughly equal quantities of leeks, roasted squash and artichokes, flavoured with garlic, cumin seed, ground coriander and a chilli for a little warmth - ideal on a frosty January day for lunch.  Make it pretty much the usual way by sweating the leek, garlic and artichokes in a little butter and olive oil until soft, add the chunks of roasted squash (I used a Crown Prince pumpkin, but butternut is fine too) and the spices, about a heaped teaspoon of each, and the chopped chilli.  Just cover with veg stock (Marigold is fine, as always) and simmer until tender.  Blend and serve as is or with a spoonful of parsley pesto: a bunch of parsley, with the tougher stems removed, a handful of toasted pine nuts, a clove of garlic, all blended quickly in a mini processor with a little oil, salt and pepper.  I didn't use Parmesan as I thought its flavour wouldn't go with the spices in the soup, but you can add the cheese to serve with tomato or red pepper soup, and with pasta, of course.  This is an 'under a fiver' dish that will feed 4-6 people (maybe the pesto pushes it a little over that cost threshold?).

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