Silky Cardoon Soup

Preparation info

  • Makes about 8 cups , to serve

    6

    as a first course

    Appears in

    Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini

    By Elizabeth Schneider

    Published 2001

    • About

    Cardoons blenderize to an elegant, creamy puree—even if the stalks are rather large and scruffy. The soup looks and tastes as if it were made with artichoke hearts—at a fraction of the labor and expense. Like all cardoon dishes, it is low-key and low-color—a greenish greige that benefits from contrast with deep-toned serving bowls. For a bright garnish, scatter snips of chervil over each serving.

    Ingredients

    • 3 pounds cardoons
    • 4 medium shallots, sliced (about ¾ cup)
    • 2 or 3 large garlic cloves, sliced
    • 3 sturdy rosemary sprigs (each about 4 inches long)
    • 2 tablespoons walnut oil (or hazelnut and olive oil combined)
    • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
    • ½ cup dry vermouth
    • About 4 cups mushroom and/or vegetable broth
    • About 3 cups water
    • 3 tablespoons white rice (preferably short- or medium-grain)
    • 3 tablespoons rolled oats
    • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
    • ¼ teaspoon fine-ground white pepper
    • Lemon juice
    • About ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

      Method

      1. Trim base of cardoons and separate stalks. Run knife down sides to remove leaves. If stalks are very large and stringy, zip off some fibers with a knife. Cut into 2-inch lengths (to make 8 to 10 cups). Rinse well. Combine in large pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil, covered; drain.
      2. Meanwhile, in small saucepan, gently cook shallots, garlic, and rosemary in oil over fairly low heat to soften but not brown. Stir in coriander, add vermouth, and bring to a boil. Add to cardoons.
      3. Add 4 cups broth, 3 cups water, rice, oats, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring often to prevent sticking. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until cardoons are soft—timing varies, but 45 to 60 minutes is usual. Taste during cooking to determine if rosemary should be removed.
      4. Uncover soup and cool briefly. Remove rosemary, if still present. With slotted spoon, transfer solids to food processor, then puree until smooth, adding liquid gradually. (Puree in batches, as necessary.)
      5. Press soup through medium sieve. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Thin, if desired, with broth or water.
      6. Reheat soup gently. Ladle into bowls. Sprinkle cheese on each.

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