Fall. It's here, it's gloriously here and I'm no longer sweating to death simply standing around (nor baking in the overheated subway stations below ground). It's a time for warm things, cocoa and roasted vegetables, hearty potato dishes - and soup. Especially this soup.
I had it first during our Daniel Boulud session in culinary school. The groundings of this soup, in mirepoix and lardons, cream and a bouquet garni - is impossibly French. It's exactly what I think of when I think of Boulud in the kitchen. This is a soup Julia Child would have loved. It's rich and flavored with the delicate taste of artichokes, brought out by roasting the Jerusalem artichokes gently in the oven, and fades away to a backdrop of complex vegetable flavors.
2.5 lbs Jerusalem artichokes (or sunchokes), scrubbed and diced
8 cups chicken stock
3 oz pancetta or slab bacon, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
3/4 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup carrot, diced
1 potato, diced
1 leek, sliced thinly
1 fennel bulb, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup butter
1 bouquet garni (1 bay leaf, 1 sprig parsley, 1 sprig thyme, tied up)
salt & pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350. Spread the Jerusalem artichokes out and toss with canola oil. Season with salt. Roast until tender and lightly browned. In a large stockpot, heat butter over medium heat till hot. Add the diced bacon and render until all fat has melted. Remove from pot. Add 2 tbsp canola oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the mirepoix (onion, celery, and carrot) and a pinch of salt. Sweat the vegetables for 2-3 minutes until onion is translucent. Add the leek and garlic and cook until garlic is fragrant. Add stock, potatoes, roasted Jerusalem artichokes, bouquet garni, and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer and skim the top often. Cook 20-25 minutes, adjusting seasoning as necessary. Remove from heat, discard bouquet garni, and carefully pour the hot liquid into a blender, puree until smooth and creamy. Add cream and adjust seasoning.