Friday, January 11, 2008

Topinambour soup

As promised several weeks ago, here is the recipe for topinambour soup that was published in "Die Zeit" by Wolfram Siebeck. The quantities are approximate: like many great cooks, Siebeck doesn't burden his readers with unnecessary details. Rather than saying "250ml cream" in the manner of lesser mortals, he just says "cream" and leaves it at that.

This is the recipe as we made it, as nearly as Famous Photographer and I could recall, and is thus both very precise and slightly waffly. In particular, we didn't have enough liquids. We had only a half-litre of stock, so we put in a quarter-litre of water to make up the quantity. We would have used more stock or cream had either been on hand. Exercise your own taste and judgement here. We found these quantities just right as an appetizer for four hungry people.

The soup is thick and creamy, like a corn chowder; the flavour is delicate but slightly sharp on the tongue from the chilli. We had a mellow well-rounded Italian red wine with it.

Topinambour soup a la Wolfram Siebeck
Preparation time was a good hour.

1 kg topinambour (aka Jerusalem artichokes)
500-750ml soup stock (we used chicken stock)
250ml cream
• up to 250ml water to make up a litre
• 1 lemon juice
• 1 thumb-sized fresh red chilli
• salt
• curry powder
• balsamico cream (not balsamico vinegar! This is very thick and syrupy stuff)

Peel* and quarter the topinambour, and cook them in salted water until almost soft.

While the topis are cooking, squeeze the lemon and prepare the chilli. We cut a dozen utterly paper-thin rings from the blunt end of the pod and left them whole for decoration, to be thrown in at the last minute. The rest is to be hacked as fine as you possibly can.**

Warm the soup stock in a separate pot, so that it reaches cooking temperature as the topis are almost soft. (Yes, I know that this is impossible to judge correctly, just don't let it boil.)

Discard the salted water, and pour in the soup stock. Cook until the topis are quite soft. Purée them in the pot with the soup stock. Add salt to taste. Stir in the cream and bring the mixture back to cooking temperature, then add the chilli, curry and lemon juice. Stir well, then taste and add salt if needed.

Pour into warmed soup bowls and drizzle a pretty pattern with the balsamico cream.

* In case any of you are not professional cooks: they should be peeled quite thickly, not thinly like potatoes, because there is an unpleasantly rough underlayer of about 3mm (1/8 inch) thickness that should be removed as well.

** Warning to those who have never dealt with real fresh chilli: the juice burns viciously. Do not touch your face while cutting chillis! Immediately after you are finished, wash your hands very thoroughly with plenty of soap and hot water. Both cutting-board and knife should also be washed thoroughly before using them for anything else (probably best to do this before washing your hands).

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Blogger Lioness said...

Seing as I have access to neither Jerusalem artichokes nor chicken stock and you are not tired of life enough to tell me to make my own I do not feel pressured to cook, which is good. Sounds tasty though.

Spicy, yummm... Shabbat shalom!

January 11, 2008 at 3:08:00 p.m. GMT+1  
Blogger JoeinVegas said...

Are chili dishes popular in Germany? At one of the local markets I go to there are over two dozen varieties normally stocked, though B and I are kind of wimps when it comes to spices.

January 12, 2008 at 4:10:00 a.m. GMT+1  
Anonymous Dana said...

I have learned the hard way about the chile juices! And now I am craving artichokes

January 14, 2008 at 8:36:00 a.m. GMT+1  
Blogger Udge said...

For the sake of clarity: topinambour are NOT artichokes! It's a root vegetable, somewhere between potato (for the size and texture) and ginger (for the lumpy misshapedness). But do try the recipe, I'm pretty sure you would like it.

Joe, the amount of chilli that we put in was enough to be spicy-warm but not burning hot. I too am pretty wimpy about such things. And it's there for the warmth rather than the flavour, so one could well reduce it.

January 14, 2008 at 10:22:00 a.m. GMT+1  
Blogger Lioness said...

Oh, I have no access to topinambour either, had,in fact, never heard of it bfr you posted. Still sounds tasty though!

Spices, in their hotness, are why we were put on this earth, btw.

January 14, 2008 at 10:55:00 p.m. GMT+1  
Blogger Rob said...

Do not touch your face while cutting chillis!

Calls of nature should be treated with great circumspection for several handwashes after chilli handling.

And activity of an amorous nature with a partner who has recently prepared chillis is definitely contra-indicated.

January 22, 2008 at 3:37:00 a.m. GMT+1  
Blogger Judith van Praag said...

Udge, Thanks for tracing down that yummy recipe. Consider yourself (and blog) tagged at
As for spicy, I often throw in a Jalapeno pepper and carefully take it out of the stock or stew before it has a chance to break down. That way the spiciness is there, but in a more caressing manner than when you use powdered heat.

November 7, 2008 at 6:37:00 p.m. GMT+1  
Blogger Udge said...

Welcome aboard, Judith. I'm glad you enjoyed the recipe.

November 7, 2008 at 8:39:00 p.m. GMT+1  

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