Artichoke soup with saffron
This recipe is a perfect example of the way modern chefs can adapt classic French dishes to fit them into our busy contemporary lives. In the old days, one first had to remove the leaves and chokes of whole artichokes, retaining only the hearts — or bottoms, as they are known in France. Only after this painstaking chore could one begin making the soup. These days frozen food has come to the rescue. Eh oui, mes amis, The Everyday French Chef recommends using frozen artichoke hearts, as long as they are of good quality.
One word of advice: The artichoke hearts sold in jars or cans, with leaves and a little of the choke attached, are not appropriate for this soup.
1 pound (500 g.) frozen artichoke hearts
4 cups (1 liter) water
1 tsp. sea salt
2 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. crème fraîche or heavy cream
2 pinches powdered saffron
freshly ground black pepper
4 sprigs parsley
Bring the water and salt to a boil in a medium-size soup pot. Add the artichoke hearts and cook until they are very tender, 15-20 minutes.
Blend the artichokes with their cooking liquid into a smooth emulsion. If it is too thick — more like a purée than a soup — add a little water.
Transfer the mixture to a clean pot. Stir in 2 tbsp. olive oil and the cream. Add 1 pinch of saffron. Grind in some pepper, taste and adjust the seasonings. Reheat gently.
While the soup is reheating, pour 2 tsp. olive oil into a very small cup. Add the other pinch of saffron and stir to make a sauce.
When ready to serve the soup, ladle it into individual bowls. Drizzle a little of the the saffron sauce onto each bowl of soup and give it a swirl. Decorate with parsley. Serves 4.