The most satisfying kind of cooking, for me, is to empy my fridge of scraps and transform them into something special. Recently sunchokes were calling out to me at the store, and I bought them on a whim. After almost two years of working at farmers' markets and hanging with the sustainable foodie crowd, I had never tried them before.
The first thing I did was fry some of my homemade pancetta, as that's how most of my cooking has been starting these days. I sliced it into lardons, rendered lots of delicious fat, and set most of the crispy bits aside. I browned some onion that had been wasting away in the fridge, along with two cloves of thinly sliced garlic and the sliced sunchokes. I also tossed in some rosemary from a plant I managed to kill during my spring plant buying frenzy. Yes, I killed rosemary; I thought it was indestructible.
I poured my homemade freestyled chicken stock over the vegetables. I also threw in a few stems and leaves of some bedraggled parsley to the simmering brew to add some fresh, vegetal flavor. I brought everything to a boil and simmed it for about 20 minutes. To finish it off, I poured in a little milk that needed to be used to make the soup a little creamy. Sunchokes reminded me of super nutty water chestnuts, and the salty pancetta really brought out this flavor. The result: a satisfying meal that used a new ingredient, highlighted my homemade pancetta, and also cleared the fridge.