I love artichokes! And and at this time of the year one can find some gorgeouse speciments at the local market. For a reasonable price, too (well, at least if you live in Italy like I do!). As I said, I love them, and I could eat them in any form. Today I went for quite a traditional soup, enriched by one of those last minute 'little ideas'.
Served with a good rustic bread, preferably homemade, makes a lovely light lunch. Alternatively it can be brought to the table at dinner as a starter of the 'quite refined but not too much' type, if you know what I mean!
PS: For some things I am a little bit of a snob, I confess. When I talk about artichokes I never intend globe artichokes. Forgive me, but I think they are cheap for a reason. Hence, Sardinian artichokes, or later in the year Ligurian ones (such as the magnificent ones of the SlowFood presidium from Perinaldo-IM), or else the locally produced variety.
1 clove garlic
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1 tbs flour
500ml vegetable stock
1 tbs chopped parsley
grated dry mullet roe (bottarga di muggine)
Clean and slice the artichokes. In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil with the clove of garlic. Add the artichokes, salt and pepper and fry quickly. Add the flour mixing well and cook for another couple of minutes. Now pour in the vegetable stock and let simmer over a gentle heat for 10-15' or until the artichokes are soft.
Put through a vegetable mill (I am a big fan of hand blenders but in the case of artichokes I use only and strictly the traditional old mill because it eliminates any residual filament fromthe artichoke leaves. Besides, this way you can afford to have less waste: a few toughish leaves will do no harm. Quite the contrary, in fact).
Pour everything bach in the pot and bring gently to a boil. Add milk until you reach a creamy consistency. Simmer gently for a few minutes, incorporating the chopped parsley towards the end.
Pour into soup plates and finish by sprinkling each of them with a light grating of dry mullet roe before serving.