Harvesting the Artichoke

I pass by artichokes at the market, gazing at them, deciding if I want to take them on.  They’re really not that much work but I can get lazy when it comes to artichokes.  This past weekend I was at a friend’s dinner where Sicilian Chef Joe from Reno made fried artichoke hearts.  They were so good, I was inspired.   And my inspiration turned into a modified Greek Avgolemono soup of all things.

I got my hands on several large Globe artichokes which meant more heart for less work- five or six versus twelve to fifteen ‘babies’.   If you’ve never broken artichokes down, you’ll appreciate the lesser number to clean.

Classically, Avgolemono soup contains orzo pasta or rice but I had neither so enjoyed it with whole grain pita bread.  Chucks of artichoke heart floating in the quasi-creamy soup, coupled with a swirl of rich olive oil tasted luscious.  It was even better the next day, especially with crumbled chicken sausage on top.   Traditional or not, I’ll definitely make it again.  Is it cheating if I buy frozen artichokes?

For other Greek and Mediterranean soup ideas, head over to Laurie’s site, Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska.  I enjoy her spicy repertoire.

Artichoke Lemon Soup

This can be made gluten free and vegetarian.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ cup yellow onion, chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 quart chicken stock, low-sodium, or vegetable stock for a vegetarian version

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 ½ to 2 cups artichoke hearts, or hearts from 5 to 6 large artichokes, roughly chopped

3 eggs

Juice of two lemons

Method:

Heat the oil in a stockpot over medium.  Add the onions and cook until translucent, 3 or 4 minutes.  Add the oregano, stock and artichoke hearts; bring to a light boil, then turn down to simmer 10 minutes.  Taste and season with salt and black pepper as desired.

Remove about half the artichoke heart pieces.  Using a blender, puree the stock in batches, being careful with the hot liquid.  Return pureed stock to stockpot and add reserved artichoke hearts.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and lemon juice. While whisking with one hand, slowly add a ladle of the warm stock to the egg mixture with the other, beating constantly. Beat in another ladle of the hot stock in the same way.

Using the same method of beating, gradually, beat the egg mixture into the pot of soup, stirring constantly.  Return the soup to the medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes or just until the mixture thickens slightly.  Don’t let it bubble.

Taste soup and adjust seasoning as needed.  Ladle into warmed bowls and top with a healthy drizzle of  your favorite extra virgin olive oil.

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