Do you have food memories where you can close your eyes and experience the taste of something as if you were eating it right at that moment? One of those pivotal childhood food memories for me was the very first time I ate an artichoke.
It was 1987 and obviously a spring evening since artichokes were in season. I was spending the night with my best friend, Paige, who happened to live directly behind our family. Her mom announced we were having artichokes for dinner, so quietly I asked my friend what that meant. To be honest, it surprises me her mom could find artichokes in a Wichita supermarket in 1987. But there you had it: We were having them for dinner. Let it be known that anything served dunked in melted butter is fantastic, but especially an artichoke.
This week’s recipe is for Fresh Artichoke Soup, a lighter way to enjoy this delightful vegetable. Bright-flavored and simple to make, this soup would be a delightful starter on a lunch or dinner menu. Unlike eating artichokes steamed and drenched in butter, this is a healthier way to enjoy the flavor of this unique thistle.
The artichoke originated in the Mediterranean and has been used for food and medicine for hundreds of years. Eat up because they’re high in fiber and good for lowering blood sugar and improving digestion as well as heart health and liver health, according to Healthline.com.
Sip away on this delightfully green soup. It’s delicious and good for you, too.
Fresh Artichoke Soup
4 fresh artichokes
1 lemon, halved
3 tabelspoons butter, plus more for buttering bread
1 yellow onion, peeled and large diced
4 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
1 quart water
½ cup heavy cream
1 slice of rustic bread
Crème fraiche, freshly snipped chives or garlic croutons, for garnish
Cut off and discard the stems from each artichoke. Cut off the top half of each artichoke. Pull or cut off all of the leaves until you get to the purple-tipped center leaves. Remove and discard those until you get to the hairy, spiky choke of each artichoke. You should have about 1 ½ cups of artichoke hearts.
Place the artichoke hearts and lemon halves in a small saucepan of salted water and lightly simmer over low heat, covered, for about 20 minutes. When the artichoke hearts are tender, remove from the water. Spoon the artichoke hearts out of the hairy chokes and slice the hearts into quarters. Set aside.
In a medium pan, melt the butter and add the onion with a sprinkle of kosher salt. Gently sweat the onion over low heat until very soft and tender, about 6 minutes. (You don’t want the onions to brown so add a few tablespoons water if the pan gets dry.) Set aside to cool slightly.
In a blender, combine the artichokes, spinach and onion mixture with the water. Blend on high speed until the soup is completely smooth and a very bright green color.
Return the soup to a clean pot, and gently whisk in the cream. Season with salt and simmer the soup over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until hot but not boiling.
Ladle into bowls and top each serving with a dollop of crème fraiche and a sprinkle of chives or a few garlic croutons. Serve immediately.
Recipe from Heather Christo’s “Generous Table”