Some days are just roller coasters. Yesterday was like that. Most of the day was fabulous — the sun was shining, Nora was in a fantastic mood after being super-cranky for days (oh, how I hate teething), and I got lots done around the house. In fact, she was in such a good, self-entertaining mood that I was able to cook a fairly ambitious meal, including this gorgeous cloverleaf French bread cooked in a cast-iron skillet.
The bread requires a total of five rises. Five! I still can’t believe we made it through all of that without a major meltdown or something. Small miracles. I followed this recipe from Fresh Eggs Daily, and I highly recommend it. It was extraordinarily tasty in addition to being a showstopper in presentation, and the loaf is so large that I was able to save plenty in the freezer for a rainy day, in addition to keeping some around for our breakfast toast.
The star of the show, though, was the creamy sunchoke soup. I’m as surprised as you are, believe me — especially since the soup is definitely easy enough to throw together on a regular weeknight, compliant toddler or no. If I hadn’t been preoccupied with other tasks, I could have easily made the soup during nap time and finished it off right before dinner, which is my usual weeknight M.O.
But, as it was, the soup came together just beautifully, and I was pleased as punch, since I have never cooked with sunchokes before.
They are weird little things. I was a bit stumped when they showed up in our CSA box, and when the hubby said they had given us a massive amount of fresh ginger, I thought he was right… until I checked the list. Sunchokes (sometimes called Jerusalem artichokes) come from a species of sunflower, and are a sort of root vegetable with a delicate, earthy, almost sweet taste.
The soup was simple and creamy and delicious, and the goat cheese and pistachios are such an inspired addition. The flavors are awesome, and it really works as a hearty meal, especially with the bread.
The hubby raved about both the soup and the bread, saying he felt like he was in a posh restaurant. High praise!
Unfortunately, that is where our roller coaster took a turn, since Nora decided to go into maximum limits-pushing mode and refuse to eat her meal (even though she had tasted it and loved it earlier) while pretending to need to use the potty as an excuse to watch her favorite YouTube videos. I mean, I love Belly Breathe as much as the next guy, but I may never get it out of my head now.
Thankfully her limits-testing subsided before bedtime, but she didn’t get to enjoy the lovely dinner her dad and I did — although our dinner was rather interrupted, for obvious reasons. Too bad — she missed out!
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1 lb sunchokes, scrubbed
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 4 oz soft goat cheese (chèvre)
- ½ cup pistachios, shelled, toasted and roughly chopped
- 2 Tbsp fresh chives, minced
- Melt the butter with the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté until softened, 2-3 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil.
- Meanwhile, chop the sunchokes into roughly equal-sized pieces. Add them to the vegetable stock and simmer, covered, until the sunchokes are fork-tender.
- Remove from the heat and cool slightly, and then use an immersion blender to blend until smooth (or puree in batches in a regular blender).
- Return the soup to the heat and bring to a low simmer. Add the cream and gently heat to serving temperature. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile, roll the goat cheese log in the toasted pistachios to coat well and slice into rounds.
- Ladle the soup into serving bowl and top with a couple of goat cheese rounds, a sprinkle of chives and any extra chopped pistachios. Enjoy!