Salvatore Denaro, the chef-owner of Il Bacco Felice in Foligno, Umbria, makes this soup with young garlic cloves, fine Umbrian extra-virgin olive oil, small young potatoes and late-season, deep-violet artichokes. A fine lesson on the importance of what Italians call materia prima (raw materials)—use whatever is freshest.
More Vegetable Soups
2 lemons—1 halved, 1 cut into wedges
6 medium artichokes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 medium head of garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
6 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
How to Make It
Fill a large bowl with water and squeeze the lemon halves into it. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, trim the base, removing the stem and trimming the tough outer leaves beneath the heart. Cut off the top two-thirds of the leaves, leaving only the heart. With a small spoon, scrape out the hairy choke. Submerge the trimmed artichoke heart in the lemon water. Repeat with the remaining 5 artichokes. Once all the hearts have been trimmed, slice them 1/4-inch thick and return them to the lemon water.
In a large, deep saucepan, heat the 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add the garlic and cook over low heat until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Drain the artichokes and add them to the saucepan along with the potatoes, the 6 1/2 cups of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Put the peppercorns in a tea ball or tie them up in a piece of cheesecloth and immerse them in the soup. Simmer until both the artichokes and potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Discard the peppercorns.
Using a fork or potato masher, partially mash the potatoes to thicken the broth. Season the soup with salt. Ladle into bowls and drizzle with olive oil. Serve with the lemon wedges.
The soup can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat gently.
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