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Creamy Artichoke Soup

Creamy Artichoke Soup
Susan Russo for NPR /

This is one seriously silky and satisfying soup. Made from fresh artichokes hearts, it's nutty, earthy and rich. I recommend using the best ingredients possible — fresh rosemary for a full-bodied flavor, sweet-tart Meyer lemons, which are less acidic than regular lemons, and fruity extra-virgin olive oil. Dunking some crispy toasted bread in this soup is a given.

Makes 4 servings

4 globe artichokes, stems and leaves discarded

1 lemon

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 leek (only the white bottom), thinly sliced

2 cups peeled, diced red potatoes

1 cup white mushrooms, thinly sliced

1/2 cup dry white wine

4 cups vegetable stock

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped

A few shakes of sea salt

10 cranks of fresh black pepper

1/2 cup half and half (or heavy cream)

1 teaspoon Meyer lemon juice (or regular lemon)

Salt and more fresh black pepper, to taste

2 ounces sliced prosciutto

Fill a medium bowl with water and the juice of 1 regular lemon. Cut off the stem and rough base of the artichoke and the top two-thirds of the leaves. Snap off all of the remaining outer leaves. Using a small spoon, scrape out the fuzzy choke. Using a sharp knife, thinly slice the artichoke heart and place in the bowl of lemon water. Repeat with remaining 3 artichokes.

In a large stockpot over medium heat, warm the olive oil and butter. Add the leek, potatoes, mushrooms and artichoke slices (after draining and patting dry). Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the white wine, and cook until it evaporates, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the vegetable stock, rosemary, salt and pepper, and stir until well combined. Raise the heat and bring to a boil. Cover partially and reduce to a simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

Working in batches, puree the soup until smooth. Return it the pot; stir in the half and half (or cream), Meyer lemon juice, salt and pepper. Keep soup warm over a low heat.

Meanwhile, in a medium-size dry skillet over medium heat, add 2 ounces of sliced prosciutto. Cook 30 to 60 seconds, or until just crisp. Remove from heat, and slice into small pieces.

Ladle the soup into 4 bowls. Top with1/4 of the crispy prosciutto, a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, some freshly ground black pepper and a bit of finely chopped fresh rosemary. Serve immediately.

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