Recipe Make a creamy, delicious soup using artichokes
T he artichoke is one of the world's oldest cultivated vegetables, grown by the Greeks and the Romans in their heyday. Globe artichokes are considered gourmet food, and are harvested just before the flowers open. They are usually boiled before consumption. Only the base of each bract is eaten. Baby artichokes can be pickled or used in soups and stews.
The globe artichoke has become important as a medicinal herb in recent years following the discovery of cynari, a bitter-tasting compound found in the leaves that improves liver and gall bladder function, stimulates the secretion of digestive juices, especially bile, and lowers blood cholesterol levels. The leaves are diuretic and help in digestion. The leaves can be used fresh or dried.
Now, for a recipe.
Artichoke hearts - 5
Butter - 7 tbsp
Leeks (sliced) - 1
Garlic - 6 cloves
Shallots - half a cup
Potatoes (peeled and diced) - 250 gm
Vegetable stock - half a cup
Bay leaf - 1
Thyme - 2 sprigs
Parsley - 4 sprigs
Black Peppercorns - quarter tsp
Cream - half a cup
Salt - to taste
Prepare the artichoke hearts. Cut the artichokes lengthwise into quarters. With a small knife, remove the thistley choke and discard. Cut the leaves from the heart. Cut or peel the tough outside skin of the stems and discard. Slice the hearts or chop to a quarter-inch thickness.
In a large pot, melt half the butter and cook the artichoke hearts, leeks, garlic, and shallots on medium heat until tender but not brown. Add the potatoes and stock. Tie up the bay leaf, thyme, parsley, and peppercorns in cheesecloth, and add to the pot. Increase heat to bring to a simmer, then lower heat and continue to simmer uncovered for an hour.
Remove the herbs. Purée the soup and pass through a strainer. When ready to serve, heat the soup and whisk in the remaining butter and the cream. Season with salt and serve.