David Myers's simple soup, with its intensely earthy artichoke flavor, makes the most of exemplary Big Heart artichokes. It's also a great way to use leftover Parmesan rind: Myers tosses it into the soup while it simmers, then discards it before pureeing.
More Warming Soups
4 Big Heart or globe artichokes (1 pound each)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 large shallots, halved
3 large garlic cloves, halved
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken stock or broth
One 4-ounce Parmesan rind, plus 1/2 cup of shavings, for garnish
12 thyme sprigs and 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, tied in cheesecloth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup pure olive oil
How to Make It
Fill a large bowl with cold water and squeeze the lemon half into it. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, snap off the outer leaves. Using a sharp knife, trim the stem and base of the artichoke and cut off the top two-thirds of the leaves. With a spoon or melon baller, scrape out the furry choke. Rub the artichoke heart all over with the lemon half and add back to the water. Repeat with the remaining 3 artichokes. Cut 3 of the artichoke hearts into 1-inch pieces and return them to the water.
In a large saucepan, heat the extra-virgin olive oil until shimmering. Drain the artichoke pieces and pat dry. Add them to the saucepan along with the potatoes, shallots and garlic; season with salt. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are lightly browned and barely tender, about 20 minutes. Add the wine and cook until nearly evaporated, about 7 minutes. Add the chicken stock, Parmesan rind and thyme bundle and bring to a boil. Cover partially and cook over moderately low heat until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Discard the thyme bundle and Parmesan rind.
Working in batches, puree the soup until smooth. Return it to the saucepan. Add the heavy cream and season with salt. Keep the soup warm.
Drain the whole artichoke heart and pat thoroughly dry. Thinly slice the heart on a mandoline. In a medium skillet, heat the pure olive oil until shimmering. Add the sliced artichoke heart and fry over high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 1 1/2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fried artichoke slices to paper towels to drain; sprinkle lightly with salt.
Ladle the soup into bowls. Mound some Parmesan shavings in the center, top with the fried artichokes and serve.
Artichokes are notorious wine-killersfor one thing, they contain cynarin, a chemical that enhances the perception of sweet flavors. Yet in this rich soup, the artichokes are balanced by Parmesan and heavy cream, so an aromatic, lushly fruity white like Viognier pairs nicely with it.
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