In the Jewish Italian kitchen the repertoire of dishes made with artichokes is particularly large. When I asked a woman at the ghetto market why this was the case she said, “Well, artichokes are bitter, and that’s part of our heritage.” This artichoke soup is named after Esther, Queen of Persia, and is served at Purim, a joyful holiday that commemorates her triumph over the evil minister Haman and her rescue of the Jews. While it is traditionally thickened with a besciamella, you can make a less rich version by using rice or potato as a thickening agent and adding only broth, or perhaps
Have ready a large bowl of water to which you have added the lemon juice. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, cut off the stem flush with the bottom. Remove all the leaves until you reach the pale green heart. Pare away the dark green area from the base. Cut the artichoke in half lengthwise and scoop out and discard the choke from each half. Then cut each half lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick slices and drop into the lemon water.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Drain the artichokes and add to the pan. Sauté for a few minutes, then add the garlic, the potatoes or rice, and about
Remove from the heat and transfer to a food processor. Puree until smooth, then return the puree to the saucepan. Add the remaining
Serve in shallow soup bowls. Sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts, pine nuts, parsley, or mint.
To make the rich version of this soup, make a besciamella with
Although not a Purim specialty, you can make a wonderful asparagus soup by substituting
© 1998 Joyce Goldstein. All rights reserved.