Its been an odd couple of days here, unseasonably cool, and rainy, and dare I say pleasant. Although most things remain in a constant flux, there’s at least one constant- I don’t know that I’ll ever come to enjoy the heat. So when the first of June brought a cool front with it, I instantly felt a little less surly. Of course, the moment I found myself sans sweat, I logically decided the best thing to do was to jump head first into a bowl of soup, and savor every bite.
I make no apologies, its just good for my cold weather soul. Each bite was a precious bit of respite, as calming as the fresh air coming through our open windows. I know I should have made soup of the bounty of fresh vegetables popping up all over, maybe with the dozen carrots in my fridge or the zucchini spilling out of the crisper. I tell you, I do feel a little guilty about opting for such a pantry ready meal, but when you’re hell-bent on an indulgence, you’re much less likely to fall prey to a guilt trip. That, and I was just too intrigued by a soup of artichokes to let the opportunity pass me by.
And so it was. I started the week with raindrops splattering above my head, the echoes through our apartment an oddly calming phenomenon, no doubt bolstered by many little bowls of artichoke soup with quinoa salad in hand. Wait, you say, this is your idea of indulgent? Quinoa salad? I know what your thinking, I need to get out more. On either point you’ll get no sass from me. Artichoke soup sounds a bit odd, as does the word ‘refreshing’ when browsing an ingredients list curiously void of fresh vegetables. And yet, this quick fix, despite just about every thing in it born out of cans, has an entirely fresh, spring-like outlook.
At this point I must confess, I’m generally a little weary of artichokes. Don’t get me wrong I like them, but in quite small doses. So a whole soup of artichokes, I couldn’t help but wonder how that would work. Turns out the tang of the artichokes is nicely mellowed by healthy doses cream and stock, then rounded out with a good dose of garlic. Of course its rich, but also layered, finishing with the sweetness of the cream. The quinoa and parsley salad atop add a nice and light foil to richness of the soup, and the combination of lemon and parsley is reliably uplifting.
This soup comes from my New York City bucket list. Sunday Suppers, a beautiful site that I’ve often turned to for kitchen inspiration in the last couple of years. They host a weekend dinner party where guests help prepare the meal out of local, farmers’ market ingredients and every detail, and I do mean every, is picture perfect.
I made this soup two ways, first with salami, as prescribed, and it was wonderful. The fennel seed in the soup and the parsley are a natural compliment to the salami. But I have to say, I took one look at the soup and I that soup and thought ‘my mom would like that soup’ if it weren’t for the salami. And so I made a few small adjustments to make it vegetarian. I mimicked the texture of the salami by roasting thinly sliced fennel bulb until it was crispy, and I think it was a good substitution. It was well stitched in between the soup and salad, still picking up on the fennel seed and garlic in the soup and the parsley in the salad, but meat-free.
Pack this recipe away in your winter chest if you must, it’ll serve you well in the face of short days full of snow and sleet. But should you be faced with a rainy day in the near future, or maybe just a little bit curious, this soup of artichokes is the way to go. Had I managed to control myself and set some aside, I imagine a slightly thicker version of this soup as a standout pizza sauce. Because everything in my house seems to come back to pizza. And on that note, we’re back to the sweaty sticky days Atlanta made its name by.
Artichoke Soup with Lemon Parsley Quinoa Salad
adapted from Sunday Suppers
- 2 8.5 ounce cans artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained
- 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 3/4 cup cream
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 1/2 cup dried quinoa
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley
- zest of one lemon
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- 1/2 fennel bulb very thinly sliced
- salt, pepper and olive oil for seasoning
Preheat oven to 375º.
Combine quinoa and 1 cup of lightly salted water in small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to simmer. It will take about 15 minutes for most of the liquid to evaporate. Once cooked the quinoa will be translucent. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.
Toss thinly sliced fennel bulb with scant 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil and pepper. Because its so thin it readily soaks up the olive oil, so use a light hand. Scatter pieces on foil lined baking sheet and bake until browned, about ten minutes.
Place artichoke hearts, garlic, 1/2 cup of cream, and 1/2 cup of stock in medium sauce pan and heat until warmed throughout. Add fennel seed and remove from heat. Puree in batches, adding the remaining cream and stock as you go. Return to pan and season with salt and pepper. Rewarm if necessary.
In a medium sized mixing bowl toss cooked quinoa, lemon juice, zest, parsley and a small drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
To Serve ladle soup into bowls, place a piece of roasted fennel in the center of the bowl, top with generous scoop of quinoa salad.