Spanish fish soup with Jerusalem artichokes and puy lentils
This is an amazingly feisty and deeply flavourful soup. The combination of tomatoes, eggs, mackerel and Jerusalem artichokes in this result in a 1+1=50 explosion of “umami” flavouring. Umami is a Japanese word for the 5th unique taste that humans can detect. After salty, sweet, sour and bitter, this 5th taste is a moreish savoury taste that the Japanese have known about since 1908, but those of us in West have only started talking seriously about since the mid 1980’s.
It may not look like much on first glance, but this soup packs both a flavour and nutritional punch to keep your heart and digestive systems healthy. It’s based around one of my favorite spices: smoked Spanish paprika as well as Jerusalem artichokes. This tuber is full of immune boosting prebiotics to help feed the good bacteria in your gut, as well as a good amount of vitamin C, fibre, and the B vitamin: niacin.
Since I first discovered smoky paprika about 10 years ago in a Spanish market, it’s been a staple in my cooking. Nowadays you can find it easily online or in large supermarkets, and the 2 types: smoked-sweet, or smoked-hot, are truly transformational flavourings. I like to use it anywhere you want a rich, savoury depth: casseroles and soups, like this one with a tomato base, are a particularly good pairing for it. It’s also amazing mixed with a little sea salt and sprinkled onto cooked nuts.
Jerusalem artichokes (see picture directly below) are knobbly little roots that look like like a cross between potatoes and ginger. They cook just like potatoes. You cut them into chunks, or coins in this case, and they start out all hard and starchy, but soften through cooking into the texture of a soft potato. You can also mash them just like potatoes if you wanted to try adding them to other dishes.