Sun Choke Soup – 5 Simple Ingredients to Scrumptiousness!
It’s mid-November and after a truly epic 2023 mushroom season, the fields are calling to me again. I just adore the cyclical nature of foraging. As soon as one thing ends, another is ready for harvest. Spring greens are back up along roadsides and wood edges – bittercress, garlic mustard, wild onions and more! The colder temperatures also mean its the perfect time to forage for below ground delights, before the ground freezes, trapping its treasures until next year.
One such plant is the wild sun choke, also known as the Jerusalem Artichoke. While I have enjoyed the sun choke at many restaurants, I had never foraged it, or cooked it on my own. Its flavor is nutty and creamy, combining the texture of a potato with a subtle hint of artichoke.
After finding 3 large wild colonies in my area, I was motivated. I brought my friend Mark along to help, and in about 20 minutes, we gathered nearly 3 pounds of tubers. You don’t need to dig deep to find the goods!
The above ground part of the plant is a coarse, usually multi branched, frost-tender perennial, 2 to 3 meters (7 to 10 feet) tall. The numerous showy flower heads, appearing in late summer or early autumn, have yellow ray flowers and yellow, brownish, or purplish disk flowers. The underground tubers vary from oblong to much-elongated, from regular to rough and branched, and from very small to about 110 grams (4 ounces). Skin colors range from light buff through yellowish to brown, red, and purple. The tubers are very thin-skinned and soon shrivel on exposure to dry air; the flesh is white and crisp. Harvest in November or March.
There are a variety of ways to enjoy sun chokes, from simply roasting or frying for crispy chips, to silky soups and sauces. The most important thing to note is that sun chokes need to be cooked for at least 45 minutes – an hour, depending on the size (wild chokes are much smaller than store bought). If you do not cook them long enough, you may experience gas. I’ve not had this problem, but I have heard some hilarious stories from fellow foragers.
This week, I wanted to make a soup. With Thanksgiving looming, I didn’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and this recipe is perfect for a quick, easy and beyond delicious meal. I am so obsessed with this new recipe that I went back out the next day to forage for more sun chokes so that I could make a larger batch and freeze it to enjoy throughout the winter months.
- 2 pounds of wild or store bought sun chokes
- 1 white onion
- 2-3 garlic cloves
- 4 cups of stock (your choice)
- 1 cup of whole milk
- Olive oil
In a pot, melt butter. Chop onions and sun chokes and add to pot. Caramelize contents for about 15 minutes. Mince garlic and add to pot. Cook for one minute. Add in your choice of stock, I used my own homemade stock. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer. Cook for 15 minutes. Add in salt, pepper and thyme to taste. Next, pour in one cup of whole milk (for a creamy soup, or skip this step for a lactose-free soup). Bring mixture back to a low simmer and cook for 15 more minutes. If desired, add a few splashes of olive oil. Blend and serve!