I Return from the stores with brown paper bags of brown vegetables. Jerusalem artichokes—its lumpy, shimmering violet skins—will add weight to a pot of chicken soup, made with proper broth and finished with lemon, thyme, and sautéed artichokes. Potatoes are baked and stuffed with green peppers, roasted garlic and cheese with herbs.
Sometimes you want chicken soup. Sometimes you need it. Clear broth will do the trick, it is nutritious and does not cause any inconvenience to eating. But the soup I make today is thick not only with shredded chicken from the broth, but with artichokes as well. (If you’re cooking for someone who finds their presence annoying, you can make it with potatoes instead.) But artichokes are, mostly because of the velvety quality they add to soups when crushed or blended in a blender.
Potatoes are more than an easy dinner. There are times when only a baked potato will do the trick. Usually around this time, when the hope and excitement of the New Year fades and the evenings are cool and damp. You can trust baked potatoes. The interesting thing comes with the filling. This time, a creamy buttercream made with soft cheese and roasted sweet garlic. Unpeeled cloves can be placed between the potatoes, and their tender flesh colored with toffee and cream cheese is mashed with thyme and lemon juice. Reassured, nostalgic, as cheap as potato chips. Sometimes, that’s all we really need.
Chicken, lemon and artichoke soup
Inventory is important here. Give it time, let the broth, aromatics and chicken simmer gently for about an hour. It is the heart and soul of soup. Serves 4
Jerusalem artichoke 700 g
pistachio oil 3 tablespoons
an onion 1
chicken Thighs 800 grams, bone in
chicken wings a bunch
Carrots 2, medium
Zaatar 5 small strands
celery 1 stick
black Pepper 6
Ginger 4 thick coins
Jerusalem artichoke 2
pistachio oil 1 tablespoon
parsley a bunch
Zaatar a few twigs
First make inventory. Peel the onions, cut them in half and put them in a large saucepan or casserole. Add chicken pieces, wings, carrots, thyme sprigs, halved celery sticks, pepper, ginger and thyme. Pour in 2 liters of water and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat, partially cover with a lid and simmer for 50 minutes, checking the water level from time to time.
Peel the Jerusalem artichoke, then chop it into large pieces. Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet, add the artichokes and let simmer for 10-15 minutes, until slightly browned, stirring occasionally. Put 1.5 liters of chicken broth, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes until the artichokes are completely cooked.
Remove the chicken pieces from the broth and set aside. (You may have some broth left, so strain it carefully through a strainer or strainer into a large bowl or pitcher and discard the aromatics. Let cool, then store in the refrigerator until needed.) Take out the chicken skin and dispose of it. Pull the meat off the bones, then chop or cut into strips and set aside.
Blend the artichokes and broth with a blender or ladle into a jug blender and reduce to a thick, creamy soup. Shredded chicken heart.
To finish, finely chop the parsley and stir. Check the seasoning, adding salt, pepper and squeezing lemon juice to taste. (You may not need the whole lemon.) Peel and slice the artichokes, then fry them in oil in a shallow skillet for 7-10 minutes until soft and golden. Add them to the soup and then pull the thyme leaves from the stems and sprinkle over them at the last minute.
Baked potatoes (or artichokes) with roasted garlic and herb cheese
The cream cheese filling is suitable for both potatoes and artichokes. If you are using artichokes, cut them in half and use twice the amount of olive oil. Serves 4
potato 1.5 kg small white meat
olive oil 3 tablespoons
garlic 6 cloves plump
to fill in:
Generous cheese 200 grams
Zaatar tree leaves 1 teaspoon
garlic 1 clove
Lemon juice 1 small
Green pepper in brine 1 teaspoon
Preheat oven to 200/gas mark 6. Wash the potatoes and place them tightly but not touching in a roasting pan, pour olive oil over them and add the sea salt crumbles and grind black pepper. Turn them over with your hands, making sure that the tubers are slightly covered with oil and spices. Tuck garlic cloves, whole and unpeeled, between them.
Bake for 45 minutes or until cooked through. (It is worth testing them constantly – the exact timing will depend a lot on the size and variety of the potatoes.) When the garlic has simmered for 30 minutes, remove it from the can and let it cool slightly.
Put the cream cheese in a food processor. Peel the parsley leaves and add them to the cheese, then add the thyme. Peel the garlic and squeeze the soft pulp into the cheese. Squeeze the lemon juice and blend for a few seconds until it becomes a smooth cream, then transfer to a small mixing bowl and stir in the peppers. (If you don’t have a processor, finely chop the parsley and then mix it with a wooden spoon.) Place the potatoes in a serving dish, slice each in half and spoon in some of the herb filling.
Follow Nigel on Twitter Tweet embed