Recipe: Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Bacon

from the website Chocolate & Zucchini

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Bacon

1.2 kg (2 1/2 pounds) Jerusalem artichokes
1 medium floury potato (i.e. one you'd use for mashing), about 200 grams (7 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
100 grams (3 1/2 ounces) bacon*, diced or cut into matchsticks
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
1 liter (4 cups) vegetable or chicken stock, preferably unsalted, hot (if you don't have quite enough stock on hand, make up for the difference using water)
freshly ground black pepper
a small bunch fresh chives, snipped, for garnish

Serves 4 to 6.

Peel the Jerusalem artichokes with a vegetable peeler, placing the peeled ones in a bowl of cold water as you work, to prevent oxydation. Don't worry about getting all the skin off; it doesn't matter if tiny patches remain in hard-to-reach nooks. Peel the potato as well.

Rinse the Jerusalem artichokes and potato in one or two changes of water, cut them into chunks (about 3 cm or 1 inch in width) and place them in a medium saucepan. Cover with cold water, add the baking soda, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. As soon as the water simmers, remove from heat and reserve in the cooking water.

While the vegetables are heating up, place a soup pot over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until browned. A minute before the bacon is entirely browned, add the garlic and cook for a minute until softened, stirring frequently to avoid coloring.

Drain the vegetables and add them to the soup pot. Pour in the hot stock, stir, and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15 to 18 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked enough that a knife can be easily inserted through them, but not so much that they fall apart.

Put on an apron and purée the soup using an immersion blender. Taste and add a little salt if necessary (but bacon is already quite salty, so I find it's unnecessary). Divide among soup plates, sprinkle with black pepper and chives, and serve.

* If you wanted to make a vegetarian approximation of the soup, you could try starting it with olive oil and flavor it with smoked paprika instead.

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