These knobbly, underground ugly sisters to the blooms of the true artichoke are harvested from late autumn and have a reputation for causing gale-force wind in some individuals. But - hello, Cinderella - they're a cinch to trick up into what is arguably winter's swankiest soup - subtle, nutty and satin-smooth.
1kg jerusalem artichokes
4 leeks, white parts only, sliced into coins
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
creme fraiche or goat's curd, to serve
1. Peel artichokes, placing them in a bowl of cold water into which you have squeezed a lemon (this inhibits discolouration). Peel potatoes and cut into pieces about the same size as the artichokes. Take a suspicious look at the cut-up leeks for lurking dirt and rinse if necessary.
2. Melt butter over low heat in a large, heavy saucepan and sweat the leeks, covered, until they wilt - don't let them brown. Add potatoes and artichokes and season with salt and pepper. Add stock and enough water to cover the vegetables; simmer until artichokes and potatoes are tender.
3. Puree, adding seasoning and maybe a little more water to thin the soup to taste. If you like, add a spoonful of creme fraiche or goat's curd to each bowl. Leftovers freeze nicely.