Sunchokes: They’re Painfully Delicious

Today is CSA pickup day so last night I used my last vegetable from the last box, which were sunchokes, aka Jerusalem artichokes. They’re not artichokes, they’re not from Jerusalem, so what gives? I don’t know. They’re actually a tuber from the sunflower family.

I’ve used them sliced in stir fries as a substitute for water chestnuts, and I’ve mixed them with potatoes for a gratin. Neither was my favorite. So this year I decided the simplest way to deal with them was to make a pureed sunchoke cream soup.

It started out great. I had everything I needed to make the soup. Sunchokes, leeks, stock, cream, and seasoning.

I sliced my leeks and started them carmelizing and then turned to prepping the sunchokes.


Sunchokes aren’t pretty, but they were surprisingly easy to prepare. Just scrub and slice. No need to peel.


I added the sunchokes to the leeks with stock and water, to simmer for about 1/2 hour. Then I was ready to puree the soup.

I have recently read somewhere that a jar blender makes a smoother puree than an immersion blender. I haven’t used my jar blender to puree soup for years but I wanted the soup as smooth as I could get it since my son doesn’t like a mealy texture. So, being out of practice, I ladled the blender jar about half full and put the cover on . . . but not tightly enough. Hot soup erupted all over me and the kitchen. Normally I would really lose my temper but I was so mad I was almost calm.

My husband found me a clean t-shirt, I cleaned up the kitchen, and got my immersion blender out. I was going to strain it anyway so what did it matter if it was still a little rough? Which brings up the issue of a chinoise. I’ve always wanted one but have never been able to justify buying one. And why are they so expensive. Is it because of the fancy French name? Anyway . . . I blended, strained, seasoned with smoked paprika, salt and pepper, and sprinkled some fresh chives on top . . .

sunchoke cream soup

. . . and it was delicious. I heated up some homemade ciabatta and was happy we were having a light dinner.

Fast forward to 1:30 am when I woke up doubled over in cramping pain which lasted most of the night.  Had I eaten something bad?  It turns out sunchokes contain a lot of inulin, an enzyme our bodies can’t handle in large quantities. For some people this means extreme discomfort and possible social suicide if you’re not safely tucked priviately in your own bed for the night. I guess I haven’t eaten the amounts in the past that I would have ingested eating the soup. I have Crohn’s disease so I don’t know if this would have affected me more than it did my husband. He had problems too but not as severe as I did.  Evidently this is a fairly common problem with sunchokes.

So although the soup was delicious, this spring the remaining sunchokes will be left behind to keep the parsnips company at the CSA pickup. I hope they find a good home.

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