The very first meal Justin prepared for me (on a date over 15 years ago!) included artichokes. He made a perfect hollandaise sauce, boiled the artichokes, and served them whole. We peeled away the fleshy petals, and dipped each one in the buttery hollandaise sauce. Over the years we've eaten artichokes this way many times, but never experimented much further.
On our recent road-trip along the French Riviera, artichokes were served with almost every meal we ate out. Inspired by these artichoke-centric Provençal dishes, and the bounty of artichokes for sale at our local farmer's market, I felt compelled to cook them myself as soon we arrived home.
Given that artichokes have a subtle flavor that is easily overwhelmed, I decided to make a soup. I've used only a few ingredients, to let the artichokes shine.
Yields 6 serves
- 4 globe artichoke hearts (see cooking notes for how to clean an artichoke)
- 2 lemons - to be used when preparing the artichoke hearts, to prevent them from browning
- 2 leeks, white and light green part only, cleaned and diced
- 4 shallots, peeled and diced
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and diced
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 12 cups broth - I used 10 cups chicken broth and 2 cups Parmesan rind broth, but 12 cups of chicken or vegetable broth would also work (see cooking notes for more detail)
- 4 potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt and pepper, to taste - it's important to season by taste, as broths vary a lot in saltiness
- Clean the artichokes and set aside the hearts, quartered.
- Melt the butter in a thick-bottomed stockpot over low-medium heat, and add the leeks, shallots, and garlic. Season with a little salt, and cook until tender.
- Add the broth, potatoes, bay leaf, and artichokes. Increase the heat to bring the soup to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 1 hour.
- Remove the bay leaf, and then puree the soup using a blender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Optional, to serve: garnish with toasted croutons, a dollop of creme fraiche, finely chopped chives or parsley, and freshly ground pepper.
- Cleaning an artichoke and removing the heart is a little fiddly, especially for those of us who get a touch impatient with peeling and chopping. The trick is to use a good pairing knife, and to saturate your artichoke with lemon juice as you cut into the flesh (this stops the artichoke flesh from browning, which happens very quickly if you don't use lemon juice). For any first timers, this video shows you the step-by-step process. In reality, it takes about 3 minutes per artichoke.
- You have a few options regarding what type of broth you can use for this soup. Chicken or vegetable broth both work well. I wanted to add an extra savory note, so I used a combination of chicken and Parmesan broth. If you feel inclined to give this a try too, you can make a Parmesan broth by boiling approximately 1 pound of Parmesan rinds in 8 cups of water for 2 hours, and then straining. Alternatively, for this recipe, you could add a piece of Parmesan rind to the soup while it's boiling (removing and discarding the rind before blending). Another option would be to add some nutritional yeast for that umami flavor.