Jerusalem artichoke cream soup with balsamic glazed smoked bacon lardons

I just cooked and ate Jerusalem artichokes for the first time. I always thought thy are just another weird kind of sweet potato that I wouldn’t know how to prepare. I got the idea after I learned they are neither from Jerusalem, nor artichokes, but something that looks like ginger and potatoes had a baby.

Then Norb ordered some with our veg box and I had to learn more about them. Turns out they are called artichoke, because they actually taste remarkably like artichokes, even though they are a kind of tubular, most closely related to the sunflower (that’s why they are often called sunchokes nowadays). And I LOVE the taste of artichokes, it’s one of my favourite tastes ever. My research (googling) also thought me that one of the most common ways to prepare them is to make a soup. I also read somewhere (think it might me Jamie Olivers site) that they go perfect with smoky flavours. I also knew from previous cooking that artichokes and balsamic vinegar are a match made in heaven, so this recipe was born:

sunchoke soup

Jerusalem artichoke cream soup with balsamic glazed smoked bacon lardons 

You’ll need (for approximately 4 people):

  • 2 cups (around 10) peeled and chopped Jerusalem artichokes
  • 1 large or 2 small carrots (half a cup), also chopped
  • 1 stick celery, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • about 4 cups of broth (chicken, vegetable, whatever you have on hand)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 thick slices of smoked bacon
  • 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar

1. Heat the oil and add the onion, carrots and celery. Saute for 5 minutes.

2. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the Jerusalem artichokes.

3. Cover with broth and cook on medium low for about 25 minutes, or until all vegetables are soft. The soup should simmer, not boil.

4. When the soup needs no more supervision, start preparing the lardons. Heat a cast iron pan (or a non-stick one, but you should really think about investing into a cast iron pan:)).

5. Cube the bacon into small pieces (around 1/3 of an inch, half a cm) and add it to the pan. Add the balsamic vinegar and mix well. Lower the temperature to medium or medim low and cook untill the bacon is crisp (around 15 minutes). Mix often, so it doesn’t burn.

6.Blend the soup and add a bit more liquid (broth) if it’s too thick.

7. Serve together with the lardons and dober tek!

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Spaghetti (squash) with vegetable marinara

Let’s start the year with a super healthy recipe for all of you who swore to only eat vegetables and give up carbs for ever this year. (I didn’t. My new years resolutions are: Eat all the chocolate! Maybe move a bit more, maybe not. Create more, care less.) But we had this spaghetti squash for quite some time (it came in a veg box before Christmas), and it was maybe time to cook it? If you’ve never encountered a spaghetti squash before- it’s an absolutely magical vegetable. You can make it into a spaghetti like dish without any fancy tools. It just grows that way! You just cook it and then scrape it out of its shell with a fork and voila- fake pasta! My father has been growing these for ages and one of my favourite things to do as a child was tricking my non-vegetable eating friends into eating it. (I was a weird kid… )

uncooked squas

So here’s how I prepare it (but there’s other ways of cooking it, like boiling or using a microwave oven)

 Preheat the oven to 200 °C. Cut the squash in half and spoon out the seeds. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and place the squash on it, skin side up. Pour a bit of water into the tray (1/3 of a cup). Bake for 35-45 minutes- This depends on the size of the squash, usually they are ready in about 40 minutes. You know its done when the next step is possible (if it’s too hard for it, bake some more). Take a fork and start scraping out the squash meat sidewise. Spaghetti are supposed to form. They won’t be super long, but if you’re careful enough, they should look like pasta.

Serve with any sauce you like, but here’s a recipe for a tasty quick vegetable marinara.

  1.  While the squash is in the oven, prepare the sauce.
  2. Chop the onion, carrots and celery into small piece. heat a spoon of olive oil and saute the vegetables on medium heat for 10 minutes.
  3. Chop the garlic, add to vegetables and saute for 30 more seconds.
  4. Add the tomatoes. wash out the can with some water and add 1/2 of cup of tomato water to the sauce. Cook for 20 minutes on medium heat.
  5. Add a handful of any fresh herbs you have lying around (preferably basil or parsley) and blend. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over the squash or regular pasta.
  6.  Dober tek!

Paleo pumpkin pie

Were I come from, older people still sometimes don’t eat pumpkins, because they are “food for pigs”. If we do cook them, we usually make soups or side dishes out of them, but almost never desserts. But each year, my father grew approximately a ton of different kinds of pumpkins and we had to use them up somehow, so I eventually started experimenting with pies. And I fell in love with the seasonal taste.Recently, I also started experimenting with paleo recipes (because of some freelance jobs I got) and when I had half of a pumpkin leftover from some soup, I knew I had to try to make it into pie. And I did. And it was delicious.  So here is the recipe!

You’ll need:

For the crust:

  • 1.5 cups coconut flour
  • 0.5 cups ground almonds or any other nuts
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil (or butter)
  • 1 large egg

For the filling:

  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • ½ cup cashew nuts soaked in water for at least 4 hours (½ cup before they are soaked, once they they are soaked they are a bit bigger)
  • 1/3 cup honey (or maple syrup)
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice (or a mix of cinnamon, allspice, ground cloves and nutmeg)
  • 2 eggs
  1. Preheat the oven to 360°F (180°C).
  2. Place all of the ingredients for the crust in a food processor and pulse until it forms a ball.
  3. This is not the kind of dough you’d roll out. Just press it into a 9 inch pie dish.
  4. Bake for 5 minutes.
  5. In a blender or food processor, blend the cashews with 1 cup of water until they turn into cream. Add all the other filling ingredients and mix well.
  6. Pour into the pie crust and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the centre is completely set.

To make paleo approved non diary whipped cream, make it out of coconut cream. You know how coconut milk sometime solidifies on top of the can, if you put it in the fridge? Well use that solid top part, and a pinch of cinnamon and a tsp of vanilla and whip untill fluffy.

Creamy Cauliflower, Leek and Rosemary Soup (vegan, paleo)

I’m not on any special diets, I eat everything but tend to try and eat more or less healthy most of the time. I do like experimenting with vegan/vegetarian/gluten free/… recipes though. Sometimes the restrictions bring out my creativity. This soup recipe is a result of such an experimentation and I love how it tastes. I also like to think it’s way healthier than cauliflower soup made with cream, but who knows what really is the healthiest option these days… I tend to go with the one that’s most delicious – and I think this recipe is really worth sharing.

For approximately 4 servings, you’ll need:

  • 1 cup of cashews, soaked over night (measured before, not after soaking)
  • 3 cups of cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup chopped leeks
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil
  • 2 tbsp (or less, if you don’t want it to be too pungent) chopped rosemary leafs
  • salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat the oil in your favourite soup pot. Add the leeks and the cauliflower ans sauté on medium high heat for about 5 minutes, so some roasting aromas develop.
2. Blend the soaked cashews in 3 cups of water until you get cashew milk. (You could also use approximately 4 cups of cashew milk, if you were lazy).
3. Add the garlic and the rosemary to the pot and sauté for 30 more seconds.
4. Pour in the cashew milk and season to your liking. Cook for about 15-20 more minutes or until the cauliflower is soft.
5. Blend with whatever kitchen appliance you usually use for the job. (I like to use my regular blender. The mess me + a soup + an immersion blender make is pretty much unbelievable.) If the soup is too thick, add some water.
7. If you eat grains, serve with some delicious whole wheat bread.
6. Dober tek! (That’s like bon appetit in Slovenian. I never know how to finish recipes in English and not sound like a wannabe Julia Child.)