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L'Escalier Creme D'Artichaut
Makes 6 Servings
*6 large artichokes, leaves removed
*4 ounces olive oil, divided
*1 large Spanish onion, peeled and large dice
*1 head fennel, split and sliced thin
*1 bunch fresh basil
*1 bunch fresh cilantro
*1 teaspoon whole coriander seed
*1 teaspoon whole fennel seed
*1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
*3 quarts chicken stock
*3 large Spanish onions, peeled and large dice
*6 hearts of artichokes, leaves and chokes removed
*8 stalks celery
*1 quart reserved artichoke stock
*2 cups heavy cream
* FOR THE POTATO BEIGNETS: (Makes 20-25 Beignets)
*1 cup milk
*Zest of one lemon
*1/4 cup shortening
*1/4 cup sugar
*1/4 cup mashed potatoes
*1/2 ounce instant yeast
*6 ounces water
*2 eggs
*3 1/2 cups bread flour
*1/2 teaspoon baking powder
*1 teaspoon salt
*2 slices prosciutto, paper thin
*1 1/2 quarts Artichoke Soup Base (see recipe)
*1/3 pound butter
*1 quart neutral oil (grapeseed, canola, corn)
*6 Beignets (see recipe)
*6 ounces mascarpone cheese
*1/2 cup pistachio nuts, shelled, roasted and crushed
*Salt and pepper to taste
1To prepare the Artichoke Soup Base, clean the leaves from 6 artichokes. The leaves will be used in the stock and the hearts in the soup. Place the cleaned hearts in a bowl of lemon water so they won't oxidize.
2In a stockpot, heat 2 ounces olive oil. Add the onion and fennel and saute over high heat for 5 minutes. Reduce heat and continue to cook, allowing the onion and fennel to become tender, but not brown. Add the artichoke leaves and remaining ingredients. Cover with chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for one hour or until the liquid has reduced by 1/3. Strain the stock and reserve for later use.
3In a clean stockpot, heat 2 ounces of olive oil. Saute the onions, artichoke hearts and celery. Saute until they become tender. Do not allow them to brown. Add the artichoke stock and simmer for 30 minutes. Add heavy cream and simmer for an additional 20 minutes.
4In small batches, transfer the soup to a blender. Puree the soup until a smooth consistency is achieved.
5To prepare the Potato Beignets, in a saucepan, scald the milk and lemon zest. Stir in the shortening, sugar and mashed potatoes. At room temperature, allow the mixture to cool to lukewarm.
6In a bowl, combine the yeast and water and let stand for 10 minutes until creamy. Combine the egg into the milk and potato mixture. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add to the potato mixture. If a Kitchen-Aid mixer is available, blend the entire mixture on the second speed with a dough hook, for 10-12 minutes until smooth. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and allow to rest, covered, at room temperature until the dough doubles in size. Punch the dough down and allow to rest before rolling and cutting.
7Once rested, roll out the dough to 1/4" thick and cut into 3" circles.
8To prepare the Creme D' Artichaut, cut the slices of prosciutto into thin strips. Place the strips onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet into a 200F degree oven for 1 hour or until crispy.
9Heat the Artichoke Soup Base in a saucepot. Once the soup comes to a boil, remove from heat. Season the soup with salt and pepper and whisk in 1/3 pound of butter until completely incorporated. Remove from heat and reserve the soup in a warm place.
10In a large saucepan, heat the quart of oil to 350F degrees. Place each of the rounds of beignet dough in the oil and fry until golden brown on both sides. Remove from oil and drain on a paper towel. Reserve in a warm place.
11Using a teaspoon, scoop a small ball of mascarpone cheese. Roll the ball in the crushed pistachios. Repeat to make 6 pistachio-crusted balls.
12To serve, place a single beignet in the center of each serving bowl. Place the mascarpone ball on top of the beignet and 3 prosciutto crisps atop the cheese.
13Ladle the hot soup around the beignets, forming a small island in the center of the bowl.
Chef Kevin Ives, L'Escalier at The Breakers, Palm Beach, FL