In my experience, you can never go wrong with a recipe from one of the cookbooks of Patricia Wells. She uses the ingredients in her recipes to maximize their flavor. It doesn't have to be complicated to achieve these results as this recipe proves. We made this elegant, velvety soup for Thanksgiving one year - to rave reviews. The wonderful, distinct flavor of the artichokes has little to no competition from the shallot and chicken stock, and the rich creamy consistency of the soup comes from the artichokes themselves; there's no cream in this recipe at all. It doesn't get much easier than this, and yet the result is sophisticated and delicious.
Artichoke and Parmesan Soup
(Makes 12 Servings)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt
2 shallots, trimmed, peeled, and minced
2 pounds artichoke hearts (about 12), fresh, canned, or frozen (we use frozen with great results)
2 quarts Homemade Chicken Stock
One 2-ounce chunk of Parmegiano-Reggiano cheese
- In a large, heavy-duty stock pot, combine oil, a pinch of salt, and the shallots and stir to blend.
- Sweat-cook, covered, over low heat until soft but not browned - for 3-4 minutes.
- Cook, covered, over very low heat, until the artichokes are soft and impregnated with oil, about 2 more minutes.
- Add the stock, adjusting the heat to create a gentle simmer.
- Cover and simmer just until the artichoke hearts are soft and the flavors have had time to mingle, about 30 minutes.
- Taste for seasoning.
- Place a food mill fitted with a medium blade over a large bowl and purée the soup into the bowl. (Discard any fibrous bits that remain in the mill.)*
- Return the soup to a saucepan. The soup should have the consistency of a slightly runny purée. If the soup appears thin, reduce it slightly over moderate heat. (The soup can be prepared to this point several hours ahead and reheated at serving time.)
- With a vegetable peeler, shave the cheese into long, thick strips into a bowl. (If the chunk of cheese becomes too small to shave, grate the remaining cheese and add it to the bowl.) Set aside.
- Divide the hot soup among warmed soup bowls. Place the cheese shavings on top of the soup. If done correctly, the shavings should sit delicately on top of the soup, half-melted but still intact. Serve immediately
107 calories per serving ♨ 4 g fat ♨ 11 g protein ♨ 6 g carbohydrates
* We don't have a food mill so I used a food processor with very satisfactory results; we found no "fibrous bits" that needed to be discarded.
This recipe is from one of my favorite of Patricia's cookbooks, Vegetable Harvest. What I love about her books is they aren't just a collection of recipes, but they're fun reading, as she always has some interesting preamble for every recipe or an invaluable tip or two. You also will be hard-pressed to find butter or cream in her recipes these days. Her next book, Salad As A Meal, is equally as good.