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Artichoke Soup with Croutons

Artichoke Soup with Croutons
In the kitchen at The French Laundry in California's Napa Valley, this soup is pureed and then passed through a chinois to produce a velvety texture.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup olive oil, plus more for cooking
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 8 large artichokes
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Salt, to taste
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for garnish
  • Toasted croutons for garnish

Directions:

In a bowl, combine the wine, the 1 cup olive oil, the stock and lemon juice. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, trim off the tough green outer leaves to expose the tender yellow leaves. Using a paring knife, trim off about 1 inch from the top until the center is visible. Cut away the stem and dark green exterior to expose the pale yellow core. Cut the artichoke in half lengthwise and, with a teaspoon, scoop out the furry choke from the center and add the artichoke halves to the bowl.

In a large soup pot over medium heat, warm enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot. Add the carrots, onions, shallots and garlic and sauté, stirring occasionally, without browning, until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the artichokes from the liquid and add them to the pot with the vegetables. Strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into the soup pot. Bring to a simmer and cook until the artichokes are tender when pierced with a fork, 18 to 20 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the artichokes to a clean soup pot and strain the cooking liquid into the pot; discard the solids. Using a stick blender, puree the soup directly in the pot until smooth. Alternatively, in a blender or food processor, puree the soup in batches until smooth and return the soup to the pot. Stir in the cream and season with salt. Ladle the soup into warmed individual bowls. Garnish each serving with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and 2 or 3 croutons. Serves 4.
Thomas Keller, Chef, The French Laundry, Yountville, California