Tuesday, 29 March 2011


It has truly begun. Here I am at the beginning of another season aboard ‘Mariquita’, one of the most beautiful classic yachts in the world (as you can see from her picture, right) and this, her hundredth year.  I am so very proud to be here. In fact, if you’re still with me in a month or so, it wont be for long. For you will be disgusted at my blatant and highly unflattering boasts about how I so have the best job in the world and leave me. Fair enough. But if you don’t leave, I do give you full permission to remind me of this ‘reality-check-blog’, in which I will let on that it’s not all roses. Especially when your 33.

If you read my last one you will know that my Fella, George and I have recently moved out of our ‘Crew House’ up the hill and are now on the boat in Cogolin, a marina just down the way from St Tropez in the South of France. This procedure happens the same time every year in the same way and I enjoy it less with every year (I get older) I’m afraid. For it involves leaving the comforts and space of the ‘crew house’ to the lack of both on the boat. No more double bed and choice of bathrooms. But back to sharing a small cabin with the Fella, 2 drawers for clothes and a crew ‘heads’ (bathroom) to share with 7 others. Joy.

One mustn’t grumble; and so I look as usual to the fridge to cheer myself up. My stomach and my droopy mood needs soup. A soft and friendly soup that still harks back to the colder seasons but is a gentle, encouraging shove into the direction of summer.  I was so happy to find Jerusalem Artichokes in the supermarket still. Their season is coming to a close but they were exactly what I needed. If you have never made Jerusalem Artichoke soup before, I implore you to try it soon. It’s really so easy to make but gentle and warming and light and rich all at the same soup-slurping time. I can taste it now as I write.

Jerusalem Artichokes have nothing to do with Jerusalem and absolutely are not Artichokes and look like fresh root ginger. Which is confusing. In France they call them Topinambour, a way cooler name. But they are also known as Sunchokes or Sunroot.  They are a root vegetable and are a bit like potatoes I guess, or celeriac in texture. But like I said they are a gentle taste so please don’t be afraid to try them if you haven’t already and to cook them like you would a potato, so mash, fry or steam.

I highly recommend the soup. And I highly recommend using a homemade chicken stock, but hey, I know what its like so if it’s a cube that’s cool too.

For 6-8 bowls of soup you will need;

2 small onions or 1 large, chopped small
2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
500-600 g Jerusalem artichokes, roughly peeled and chopped into 1 inch bits
(I say roughly because they can be a real faff, depending on their nobblyness. So really don’t sweat it. Do what you can be bothered to do before it’s not cool anymore)
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped the same size as the J. Artichokes
about 2 pints of hot chicken or vege stock
½ tsp sugar
Good grating of nutmeg
2-3 tbsp crème fraiche or cream, and its optional depending on how much comfort you're in need of.


  • Gently sauté the chopped onions in some sunflower oil and a small knob of butter. Turn the heat right down low and put the lid on the pan whilst you deal with the Jerusalem Artichokes.

  • Time to peel the Jerusalem Artichokes. I sort of chop them into easier pieces, then peel. Last time I made this, I really barely peeled them and it was a lovely soup and the skin is always highly nutritious.

  • Every now and then take the lid off the pan and stir to check the onions aren’t catching on the bottom. Just before you’re ready to add the Artichokes, add the garlic to the pan and the ½ tsp sugar.

  • Turn the heat up a little and add your J.Artichokes and the potatoes. Stir and get a good sizzle going. Then add the stock to the pan.

  • Bring the soup to a boil, turn down the heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Season with some salt, pepper and a good grating of fresh nutmeg.

  • When your J.Artichokes and potatoes are soft, whiz the soup to a puree with a hand blender. Stir in your cream/crème fraiche.

  • Check your seasoning. This is a delicate flavour so careful not to put too much salt in. And if you have any truffle oil then definitely drizzle the soup with that. I have a vegetarian onboard so I don’t, but this would go very well with some crispy bacon croutons to garnish.

  • Serve with some nice crusty brown bread and butter and prepare to feel much, much better about things.

Please try this out if you never have before and let me know what you think. This is a very simple recipe but I’m sure you would be a little more adventurous. I’ll get there soon too. We’re moving to Cannes on Monday and so will be amongst the rich and beautiful and amongst other beautiful classic boats and fellow classic yachties. That’ll get me going into the season, happy to be on the boat again, even at the age of 33.