Their name is an interesting one as these beauties are not from Palestine at all but native to North America. To confuse matters further they derive their name from the Italian for sunflower ‘girasol’. They are related to the sunflower and produce huge yellow flowers in the summertime. The creeping roots produce tubers, like potatoes, which have many uses. Try grating or slicing to add crunch to salads, boiled, fried or made into a creamy mash with butter, cream and a pinch of nutmeg. A thick pancake can be made by grating the vegetable and mixing with a little flour, a beaten egg and some milk.
Paul Waddington, writer and lover of good British seasonal food has the following suggestion for Jerusalem artichoke soup:
This is a particularly easy soup to make, with an excellent flavour. To prevent the artichokes discolouring while you are peeling and chopping them, drop them into a bowl of water into which you’ve briefly squeezed a lemon. Adding a dollop of cream before serving relieves the soup’s rather dowdy colour.
1 medium onion, chopped
a splash of olive oil
1kg/2lb Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and chopped
1 litre/2 pints good stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
double cream and chopped chives to serve
Cook the onion gently in oil until soft. Add the chopped artichokes and the stock, bring to the boil and simmer until the artichokes are cooked and soft.
Liquidize or sieve, adding more stock if the soup is too thick. Season to taste. Add a dollop of cream and a sprinkling of chopped chives to each portion.
This hearty winter soup serves six.