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Sunchoke Soup with Caramelized Onions, Compliments

June 26th, 2011

Sunchoke Soup with Caramelized Onions (recipe)

Everyone can appreciate a compliment, whether it comes from a friend, an acquaintance or a stranger. Yet, it’s not uncommon to feel humbled by a compliment, almost taken aback. It’s easy to say nice things to people, but so many people choose not to, even when they are THINKING a nice thing. But we all know — or have come across — someone who is seemingly always happy to see you, always loves your outfit, thinks your hair is looking particularly shiny, or your earrings are an amazing find.

I have a couple of friends like this. They are girls that I always want to share a bottle of wine with. They are girls who always seem to know where to find a deal on a great pair of shoes, or a website with the most fabulous Internet finds. They always give me a super tight squeeze (and sometimes a kiss on the cheek) when they see me. They laugh a lot. They are light, even when the conversation turns heavy. They will always compliment me on at least one thing — whether it’s what I’m wearing, a work achievement, or just the fact that they are SO happy to see me. These girls are like songs that make you want to get up and dance all night, or a really good yoga class that puts balance back just where you needed it. They are people that make you feel good about yourself because they feel good about themselves, and life in general.

Complimenting someone shouldn’t be exhausting, nor should it feel like something you should do only when you really, really mean it or it’s really, really important. So go on, compliment more than feels comfortable and then make this sunchoke soup for a friend who makes you feel good about yourself. Saying nice things feels really good, especially when you’re thinking them in your head already.

This was the first time I’ve ever cooked a sunchoke (also known as a Jerusalem artichoke) – the root of a type of sunflower. I was a little intimidated by the ginger-like knobs, but I assure you — they’re really easy to work with. Peel them like potatoes, place them in a bowl of cold water to prevent browning, and cook them until they are super tender. The best way I can describe this soup is nutty, sweet, earthy, and incredibly creamy (with no cream added). I found it to have a very distinct, yet mild, taste of sunflower seeds, which I loved. The lemon zest, fruity olive oil, and sweet caramelized onion topping are all can’t miss additions. It comes from a blogger I’ve come to know and love — via her blog Sassy Radish, and Twitter. Thanks for the inspiration, Olga! You rock.

Sunchoke Soup with Caramelized Onions
adapted from Sassy Radish
*serves 4 as a starter, 2 as a meal

1 1/2 pounds of sunchokes
extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of fresh lemon zest (plus more, to taste)
4 cups of vegetable stock
1 1/2 teaspoons of fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
kosher salt and freshly-grated pepper, to taste
grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 large vidalia onion, sliced into 1/2 inch rings

1. Peel and roughly chop the sunchokes, placing them in a bowl of cold water while you prep the other ingredients.
2. Add about 3 tablespoons of olive oil to a large soup pot. Heat the oil over medium heat and add the garlic and thyme. Cook for a minute or two.
3. Next, drain the sunchokes and add them to the pot along with the salt, pepper, vegetable stock, and another tablespoon of olive oil. Bring the ingredients to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for approximately 45 minutes – an hour (until the sunchokes are very tender).
4. While the soup cooks, prepare your caramelized onions: heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring them around so as not to let them brown too fast. Lower the heat, cover the saucepan and continue cooking the onions for another 25-30 minutes, occasionally stirring them to make sure they are not sticking to the bottom of the pan or browning too quickly. Feel free to uncover the pan and raise the heat in the last 5-10 minutes of cooking. The onions should give off a heavenly, sweet aroma. Season them with salt and pepper.
5. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until it is velvety smooth. Stir in the lemon zest and season with more salt and pepper, as needed. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, drizzle with olive oil, and top with a spoonful of caramelized onions and a fresh grating of Parmigiano-Reggiano. You can also grate a little more lemon zest over individual bowls.

Musical Pairings: Washed Out – Within and Without + Sunchoke Soup with Caramelized Onions

Read more about this pairing over on the Turntable side.


  • nicole

    Very true, Kasey! Girls are generally more observant and just sharing that kind thought can make someone’s day. Sounds like you have a special group of friends :) I have to use sunchokes one of these days! The soup looks so delicious and I love creamy soups without the cream.

  • http://twitter.com/ladomestique Jess O’Toole

    I am a huge fan of sunchokes which are totally underrated by their ugly exterior. They have a complex, nutty flavor and their texture is like a potato but more delicate and creamy. I think people who are compliment others do so genuinely because they naturally see the good in everything. And being around someone like that can really brighten your day. :) Thanks for a great post, Kasey!

  • Ashley

    Such a great reminder. Everyone needs those people in their lives – personal cheerleaders. Thanks for this Kasey. Oh and sunchokes. I adore them but tend to shy away due to the work of peeling their little knobby bodies, isn’t that crazy?! So worth it in the end.

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Personal cheerleaders. I love that term! These are exactly the people that I’m talking about and I am always trying to learn more from them – to not be afraid of being overly complimentary, and to encourage people to do their thing and be proud of it! And yes, about the sunchokes: I always thought they were just ginger, but now I am def. hooked. Worth overcoming the preconceptions :)

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    What else to you make with them, Jess? Brightening someone’s day is priceless – we need more people in the world like this. Every time someone leaves a comment on a post, my day is instantly brightened – so thank YOU!

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Girls are definitely more open with their feelings, but I hate to present a gender discrepancy. I have quite a few ‘You go girl’ guy friends as well :) And creamy soups w/o the cream – you and me both, lady!

  • Tracy

    GORGEOUS shots, babe!!

  • Elizabeth @ Saffron Lane

    Love this post, Kasey. I’m also very fortunate to have those “cherished” friends in my life. I try to compliment people, strangers or best friends, whenever I authentically can. It’s almost a bigger gift to me to see how much happiness the smallest comment can bring.

    Sunchokes and caramelized onions are two of my all-time favorites. I’ll bet an interpretation of this recipe as a dip would also bring fabulous results. And, since we’re on the topic of compliments, your photos just keep getting better and better! Keep up the great work!

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Thanks, chica!!

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    It’s so true that we often underestimate the power of a kind word about the most mundane of things. I’m glad that you make a point to compliment people when you feel it to be authentic! Thank you for the kind words about my photos, I have been working hard on them :) Do you have recs for other ways to use sunchokes? They’re a new-to-me ingredient and I’m intrigued!

  • Monica Bellous

    I’d never tried sunchokes before, but this soup was a nice introduction!

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Thanks, Monica! It was actually my first introduction to sunchokes (and a good one, in my opinion). Let me know what you think!

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  • Jesse Watson

    Hey really nice dish! I added a little chilli to spice it up just a little and it was great! never eaten sunchoke before… very good introduction…