This is the winning recipe from a cook-off I did in 2008. I had clipped it years ago from a magazine, but it originally came from the executive chef at The Four Seasons Hotel in Austin, Texas. It really does taste like a five-star dish.
There are no shortcuts in this recipe — you need fresh artichokes, not canned — and you need to follow all the steps. They’re pretty easy, but they just take a bit of time. This would be great for a dinner party, cooked that afternoon and heated through just before the meal.
Yield: 9 cups
1 lemon, sliced
1 tsp. salt
1 quart chicken broth
1/2 cup butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
2 cups white wine
1 quart whipping cream (you can use heavy or double cream, but it won’t be as thick)
For garnish: Pumpernickel croutons (see recipe below)
Wash artichokes thoroughly under cold running water. Cut off stems right at the base of each artichoke, then trim about 1/2 inch from top of each artichoke. Remove and discard any loose bottom leaves.
Place artichokes in large Dutch oven or stock pot; cover with water and add lemon and salt. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30-35 minutes. Drain well.
Remove outer green leaves and inner yellow leaves; set aside. Cut out the fuzzy thistle (choke) and discard, leaving artichoke bottoms intact. Finely chop artichoke bottoms and set aside.
Combine artichoke leaves and chicken broth. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 40 minutes to make an artichoke stock. Pour broth mixture through a large wire-mesh sieve into a bowl; save the liquid and discard the solids.
Melt butter in the stock pot over medium-heat; add onion, celery, and garlic, and cook, stirring constantly, about 10 minutes or until tender.
Add chopped artichoke bottoms and wine; cook over medium heat about 2 minutes. Add artichoke stock and cook over low heat 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Pour mixture into the container of an electric blender and process until smooth, scraping down sides as necessary. You may have to do this in batches. Alternatively, you could use an immersion blender in the stock pot.
When whole mixture has been processed, return to stock pot and add whipping cream. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook over low heat until thoroughly heated.
4 slices dark pumpernickel bread
Cut bread into desired shapes; place on a baking sheet. Bake at 325F/160C degrees for 20 minutes or until crisp.