Serves 4

Surely it's time Jerusalem artichokes finally became popular. OK, the stubbly old tuber has a bit of a reputation for backfiring once you thought you'd seen the last of it, but we can all live with a little of that. This, sometimes referred to as Palestine soup, has such an earthy natural taste that it can take on all sorts of additional flavours such as rosemary or truffles, to make it more intriguing. You can blend it to a smooth pulp or keep it chunky.

1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 thick rashers of streaky bacon, cut into rough 1cm pieces
A good knob of butter
1 litre chicken stock (a good quality cube dissolved in that amount of water will do)
200ml double cream
500g Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and cut into rough 1cm chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

to serve

2 1cm-thick slices of bread, crusts removed and cut into 1cm dice
2tbsp olive oil
A good knob of butter

Gently cook the onion and bacon in the butter for 3-4 minutes until soft, add the stock, season and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Add the double cream and artichokes and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the artichokes are cooked and the soup has thickened slightly. Blend a cup of the soup and return to the pan.

Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a small frying pan and cook the croutons for a couple of minutes until they begin to colour, then add the butter and continue cooking for a minute or so until golden. Transfer to some kitchen paper and leave to cool a little. Reheat soup if necessary, check seasoning and serve with croutons scattered on top.