Serves 8 to 10
We had snow week before last. In Charleston... South Carolina. Close to 6 inches, no less. To most, half a foot of snow is nothing but about a month ago, we moved here from South Florida. "Winter" for the past 5 years has involved one week of temperatures in the low 60s, so the below-freezing temps were a shock to my system. All I wanted to eat was soup, and I began to dream of the best soup I've ever had. This soup (or my version of it).
Last summer, my family and I went to Northern Ireland, and on one particularly chilly day we ended up in a little town called Ballymoney. I'm sure you've never heard of it--we definitely hadn't--but, it was on the way to Giant's Causeway and was our best bet for lunch. So, we stopped at a cozy pub called Carmichael's. The soup of the day was Cream of Jerusalem Artichoke, and we all ordered it. I'm not sure if it was because we were all starving or because it was cold outside, but I savored every last bit of that soup. It was velvety in texture, earthy in flavor, and felt like a warm hug. I knew I was going to have figure out how to make it once we got back home, so I tried to remember every detail of it.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago, just before Christmas, and a first visit to our new-to-us Harris Teeter in our new town. I was perusing the produce department when the heavens broke into song and there they were: bags of Jerusalem artichokes for sale. Because I had never seen them in the grocery store before (we had just moved from a small town), I immediately grabbed every single bag. I was going to figure out how to make that soup.
After a few tries, I think the result is pretty close to the soup from Ballymoney. You can easily cut the recipe in half. The soup is rich, and this recipe can easily feed 8 to 10. I made a larger batch because 1.) I bought the remaining 4 lbs they had for fear I would have to wait until this time next year to have them again and 2.) Leftovers are loved at my house.
If you haven't seen Jerusalem artichokes (also known as sunchokes) before, they look like ginger root. If they are very fresh, you can actually peel them like ginger: with the edges of a spoon. I found that it was easier to use a paring knife.
After you've peeled the Jerusalem artichokes, cut them into small chunks, dice the celery and onion, and mince the garlic.
Sauté the onion, celery, and garlic in hot olive oil until tender, then add the Jerusalem artichokes. Simmer for 45 minutes in broth to cover, and then purée with an immersion blender. Add heavy cream and a little dry sherry and season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for about 5 more minutes, and voila! The best soup you will ever have.