I love artichokes so much I could do commercials for the California Artichoke Board. This week I had a Christmas luncheon for nine friends. What would I serve? Artichokes were at the top of my list. I decided to serve artichoke soup, a chopped salad with walnut-parmesan toasts, and raspberry trifle for dessert.
Unable to find the “right” recipe on the Internet, I created my own, using frozen artichokes, petite carrots, fresh lemon juice, and tiny tube pasta. Artichoke soup was a hit and my friends asked for the recipe. “There isn’t one,” I said. “I made up the recipe.”
“You have a good memory,” one replied. “Think about what you did, write down the recipe, and send it to us.” I did. You may add more carrots and chopped scallions, if you wish, or less pasta. I cooked the pasta a day ahead to save time on luncheon day, but you may cook it in the stock. I do not recommend canned artichokes because they have less flavor.
According to the Agriculture Marketing Resource Center Web site, French immigrants brought artichokes to the U.S. in the 1800s and grew them in Louisiana. Artichokes are actually flowers and only the centers of the buds can be eaten.
California is the main producer of artichokes and the Green Globe variety is the most popular. Castroville, CA has an Artichoke Festival in May. Artichokes thrive in cool coastal climates, according to the festival’s Web site, but freezing temperatures can kill plants. Artichokes are planted in the fall, harvested in the spring, and refrigerated immediately.
Lemon and artichokes are a match made in heaven, which is why I added fresh juice to my soup. The recipe serves at least 12 and may be frozen. I should probably get big bucks for Artichoke Soup With Petite Carrots, Lemon, and Tubettini, but you may have it for free. After all, it is the season of giving.
2 32-ounce cartons of natural chicken stock
2 tablespoons sodium-free chicken soup base OR sodium-free bouillon in packets
2 cups water
1 pound frozen artichokes (two 8-ounce bags)
2 cups petite carrots, sliced
3/4 cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
juice of 1 1/2 large lemons
McCormick Salt-Free Lemon & Pepper Seasoning to taste
3 cups cooked tubettina pasta (tiny tubes)
about 4 tablespoons of Wondra flour
Cook pasta a day ahead. Coat with a tablespoon of olive oil to prevent clumping and refrigerate.
Defrost artichokes in microwave. Cut large artichokes in half. Combine chicken stock, soup base, water, artichokes, carrots, parsley, lemon juice, and seasoning in a large soup kettle. Bring to a boil and simmer until carrots are tender. Add cooked pasta.
Whisk water into Wondra flour until it is the consistency of heavy cream. Drizzle the flour mixture into the soup and cook until it thickens. Serve in warm bowls with crackers, garlic bread, or walnut-parmesan toasts. Makes 12 servings.
Copyright 2006 by Harriet Hodgson