Truth is, this recipe works fine for Passover too. But while I’m telling the truth – I’m frankly relieved to have done with the endless shopping, cooking, serving, and washing up that was this year’s Passover. The last stray fork is back in its box, we’ve repacked all the dishes and cookware – everything is safely stored away till next year. Now I can put the word “chometz” out of my mind for another 11 months.
And it’s springtime. Spring in central Israel lasts a couple of weeks at the most, but we’re enjoying fresh winds and a prolonged cooler-than-usual feeling. Evenings are chilly. Soup is still a good choice.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I made this soup with frozen artichoke hearts. Fresh artichokes have been in season for many weeks, and we have been eating them – but I had this bag of frozens…and a little basketful of mushrooms…and a craving for a simple soup. So I cooked. And it’s good – very good. The faint taste of lemon and a final swirl of butter complement the artichokes perfectly.
Artichoke and Mushroom Soup
8-12 frozen artichoke hearts (a 400-gram bag)
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup of chopped fresh mushrooms, setting two handsome ones aside for decoration later
3 tablespoons oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled
a pinch of thyme
2 teaspoons lemon juice – or just a hearty squeeze from a cut lemon
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
2 cups of milk
3 scallion sprigs, chopped
6 teaspoons of butter
1. Put the oil, the onions, and the salt in a soup pan. Sauté the onions till they’re just wilted.
2. Add the mushrooms, minus the two set aside for later.
3. Add the artichoke hearts. They can go in whole – they’re rock-hard when frozen.
4. Season with salt and pepper; add the bay leaf and garlic.
5. Cook everything over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring.
6. Add water to cover the vegetables, and the lemon juice.
7. Bring to a gentle boil, lower the flame, and simmer the soup for 30 minutes.
8. Test the artichoke hearts for done-ness by piercing one with a knife. If it’s not entirely cooked, give it another 5 minutes.
9. Remove the bay leaf. Add the thyme. Remove one whole artichoke heart and chop it into coarse dice, reserving it for later.
10. Blend the soup. The longer you blend it, the thicker it will become. But it won’t become very thick.
11. Stir the milk in. Cook for 10 minutes and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste.
12. Put the chopped, reserved artichoke heart back into the soup. Slice the reserved mushrooms and add them.
13. Cook another 2 or 3 minutes – just long enough to cook the mushrooms through.
14. Swirl a teaspoon of butter into each bowl as you serve. Scatter chopped scallions over each serving.
Close your eyes, inhale that artichokey aroma, and eat the first spoonful. Delicious.