I guess I still have artichokes on the brain. Paul and I are having a couple of our best friends over for dinner and I am trying to work artichokes into the menu. Chris and Carol are both great cooks, so we always need to raise the bar when we cook for them. Artichoke soup comes to mind. In the south bay coastal town of Pescadero is a classic iconic restaurant that is famous for its artichoke soup. “Duarte’s Tavern” opened in 1894 and today this “James Beard American Classic” award recognized restaurant is still family owned. Recipes for their famous soups are on the Internet, but what I am going to try to do tonight is emulate not imitate. For my homage to Duarte’s I am going to combine artichoke soup and cream of green chili soup into one. What follows here are my humble efforts.
Duarte’s uses fresh artichokes no doubt. There is no way to get the great taste they get with frozen or canned artichokes. Fortunately for me I have some great artichoke hearts from Monterey Farms. These amazing artichoke hearts deserve more that a mention. They are undeniably delicious and fresh tasting. They come in four flavors: natural, buffalo, herbal, and grilled. You can buy them online or at many local specialty markets. I have used them many times in different dishes but this will be my first attempt at using them for soup.
I am going to start with the green chilli soup. I sautéed an onion and a clove of chopped garlic in a little butter until soft. Next, I used two 10-ounce cans of green chilies. Shame on me, I know I should have roasted and peeled some fresh chilies, but I didn’t. I rinsed the canned chilies well making sure I got all the seeds out, gave them a rough chop and added them to the onions. I added chicken stock just to cover and let them simmer for about 40 minutes. After that, I removed it from the heat and let it cool a bit, before blending it smooth with the hand blender and setting it aside. For the artichoke pot, I repeated the same procedure as I did with the green chilies: one onion and two cloves of garlic sautéed in butter until cooked, but not browned. I then rough chopped three 6-ounce packages of “Monterey Farms Natural Artihearts“, added it to the onion mixture and continued to sauté. After that I added chicken stock until it was just covered, and simmered it until the artichoke hearts were tender. I did not blend the artichokes because I wanted it to have a nice chunky texture. Once the artichokes were tender, I added the green chili purée to the artichokes, and tasted for seasoning. I added salt and pepper, but resisted adding anything else. I added cream to enrich it and adjusted the seasoning again. I wanted it thicker, so I mixed some cornstarch with a little stock and slowly added it to the soup until it was just right. In the end, we all loved the soup just as it was. However, you could elevate the soup to another level with the addition of meat, seafood or more complex seasoning.
If you are interested in trying the “Artihearts” from Monterey Farms, or want for information about them, you can check out their web site. Enjoy!