Just as summer turned to a fall, a few of my ladies and I got together for a girls’ night in.
Originally it was intended to be a last hurrah at the lake; a final chance to sit outside and watch the sunset. We would have a bite to eat here and there, likely with a cocktail in hand. Over time that plan evolved, and eventually it was decided that each of us would bring an appetizer and a drink to our little soiree. It would be a potluck sampling of sorts. At one point, there was talk of a possible contest and judging and a winner for the best pairing – and the accompanying bragging rights of course. So naturally we all took this very seriously.
What actually ended up happening is that the night we chose to meet was cold and rainy and our beloved sun was nowhere to be found. Undeterred we all still showed and passed our contributions around in the coziness of the kitchen, which everyone knows is the best place to end up at a party anyway.
We realized rather quickly that we should have agreed on a theme – for the drinks at least – because our “cocktails” ran the gamut from Jell-O shots to full-size Moscow Mules to homemade Irish Cream. Basically, we created a recipe for a hangover. If you want to try this at home, have everyone bring a drink using the same kind of alcohol, and dole the drinks out in small-ish standard cups.
We had a lot of variety in the food department too. I must say, it was pretty neat to see how creative everyone got. For my part, I brought a batch of Stormy Mornings and shooters of this creamy sunchoke soup. If you’ve never tried a sunchoke (also known as a Jerusalem artichoke) before, it tastes like a cross between an artichoke and an especially rich potato. In this soup, the flavor takes on a mushroom-like quality; very earthy. To balance that earthiness, I added a secret ingredient. Spoiler alert: it’s Prosecco! I liked the way that it paired with my cocktail, which also included some bubbles.
If you are looking for an excuse to pop a bottle this weekend, or are in need of a little something extra for your Thanksgiving table, either (or both!) of these recipes would be excellent choices!
CREAMY SUNCHOKE SOUP
Notes: If you want to keep this recipe Vegan, there are a couple of things to note. Not all Prosecco brands are Vegan-friendly. If you can’t find one that is, or want to omit it completely, add an extra cup of broth in its place. Be sure to use a vegetable broth (or this one if you want to try it; it works wonderfully here), and a nut milk. I prefer cashew milk because it tends to be creamier and doesn’t separate the way that almond milk sometimes does.
Sunchokes can be challenging to find. If you are lucky enough to see them at a farmers’ market, scoop them up (They keep in the refrigerator for a long time!). I’ve also been able to purchase them at Whole Foods, or locally – for all of my CNY friends – at Wegmans, packaged by Melissa’s Produce. When all else fails, I pillage them from my sister’s garden. : ) You would have seen photos of me doing so here, had I remembered to put the battery I was charging back into my camera, before heading to her house. Oy!
The flavor of this soup is so earthy that you can add extra vegetables to it and they will virtually go unnoticed. Roasted cauliflower, sauteed greens or mushrooms would all be nice options. Toss them in when you put the soup in the blender!
1 pound sunchokes, scrubbed clean and dried
2 tablespoons olive oil + additional for drizzle
Pinch of salt & pepper
2 small shallots, chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1 cup Prosecco (optional)
3 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup nut milk of choice (I recommend cashew.) or heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place half of the sunchokes (use – or cut down – sunchokes that are of equal size so that they’ll roast evenly) on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Roast for approximately 40 minutes, until the skins are nice and brown, and you can pierce through the sunchokes with a knife. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Meanwhile, slice the remaining sunchokes into thin rounds. Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven or large pot, set over medium heat. Add the shallots to the pot and cook for a minute or two. Add the sliced sunchokes and herbs, and stir. If using, pour in the Prosecco; reduce by half. Add the broth and bay leaf to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for approximately 30 minutes, until the sunchokes are tender and falling apart.
Add the roasted sunchokes to the pot. Heat just until warmed through. Carefully transfer the warm mixture to a blender. Pour in the nut milk (or cream). Slowly pulse until smooth (You do not want the hot liquid to explode in your blender!). This soup has a medium/not too thick consistency, but feel free to add more or less milk as you like. Serve immediately.