Carrot and Artichoke Soup
I love serving this, one of my most favourite soups.
First, it has an extremely rich, beautiful colour, almost saffron I would say. And second, people can never quite guess what it is. Jerusalem artichokes don't look user-friendly, but once you've cut off and discarded all the knobbly bits, the flavour is quite outstanding.
Start by peeling and de-knobbling the artichokes and, as you peel them, cut them into rough chunks and place them in a bowl of cold salted water to prevent them from discolouring.
Then, scrape the carrots and slice them into largish chunks. Now, in a large saucepan, melt the butter and soften the onion and celery in it for 5 minutes, keeping the heat fairly low. Next, drain the artichokes and add them to the pan, along with the carrots. Add some salt and, keeping the heat very low, put a lid on and let the vegetables sweat for 10 minutes to release their juices. After that, pour in the hot stock, stir well, put the lid back on and simmer, very gently, for a further 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.
Now liquidise the soup in two batches, then return it to the pan, taste to check the seasoning and reheat very gently until it just comes to simmering point.
Serve in hot soup bowls, each garnished with a swirl of crème fraîche and a few leaves of the parsley.