I've had a lot of creamy, intensely flavoured soups in Piedmont, particularly ones made with pumpkin and Jerusalem artichokes. You can also serve this with sautéed wild mushrooms and a drizzle of truffle oil instead of the chestnuts and pancetta.
- 800g Jerusalem artichokes
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 50g butter
- 1 medium onion, finely choppped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 800ml chicken stock, extra, if needed
- Generous grating of fresh nutmeg
- 250ml double cream, extra, if needed
- 35g pancetta
- 8 cooked, peeled chestnuts (vacuum-packed or in a jar), roughly chopped
- Peel the artichokes and cut them into chunks, roughly 1cm square. As you cut them, immediately drop them in a bowl of water to which you have added the lemon juice (this stops them discolouring).
- Melt 40g of the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat and add the onion. Add 2 tablespoons water, cover and sweat for 10 minutes, then add the drained artichokes, some seasoning and a splash more water. Cover and sweat for 15 minutes more. Check every so often to make sure the vegetables are not burning - you may need to add another splash of water.
- Add the stock, nutmeg and cream, and more seasoning if necessary. Cook for another 10 minutes or so.
- Leave to cool, then purée in batches in a blender -you want to end up with a completely smooth mixture. If it's not smooth enough after blending, push it through a sieve - it's laborious but does produce a better texture. Taste for seasoning, and judge whether you need to add any more cream or stock (or water).
- Just before serving, fry the pancetta in its own fat until golden all over. Quickly melt the remaining 10g butter in a small frying pan and sauté the chestnuts until glossy.
- Spoon a little of the pancetta and chestnuts over each serving.
To drink: You don't have to serve wine with soup, but Piedmont's white Arneis would be a good choice here: Malvlra Roero Arnels 2012, £10.99, Waitrose. Other candidates are Pinot Gris and Vermentino.
From the January 2014 issue of House & Garden. Recipe by Diana Henry; photograph by William Lingwood; food preparation & styling by Jack Sargeson; wine recommendations by Joanna Simon; table styling by Alexander Breeze.