Artichoke soup

Artichoke soup

Michael Fountoulakis

The steaming broth and its garnishes are ladled over the remaining rice at the end of the meal. It is a great way to ensure that nobody leaves the table hungry.


Quantity Ingredient
1 pork hock
1 teaspoon salt
2 globe artichokes
1 lemon, cut in half
1 handful rice-paddy herb
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. Put the pork hock in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Add the salt and slowly bring to the boil, removing scum as it comes to the surface. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the artichokes by trimming the stalks and removing the tough outer leaves, rubbing lemon into any cut areas to prevent discolouration. Cut off and discard the top third of the artichokes.
  3. Cut the artichokes in half lengthwise and remove the hairy centre (if they are older artichokes). Have a saucepan of boiling water ready and drop in the artichoke pieces. Place an upturned plate onto the pieces to weigh them down so they are fully submerged in the water. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15–20 minutes, or until tender.
  4. Remove the hock from the water, then remove the meat from the bone and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Return the meat to the broth.
  5. Add 300 ml of the artichoke cooking liquid and the artichokes to the pork broth. Then put in the rice-paddy herb and pepper, and taste to check the seasoning.
  6. To serve, ladle the soup over individual bowls of rice.


  • The globe artichoke is the bud of a fairly large plant belonging to the thistle family and a wonderful example of Vietnamese cuisine taking on board foreign influences. Believed to originate from the Mediterranean, this hardy perennial made its way from Italy to France at the end of the Middle Ages and in the ninteenth century travelled to the market gardens of Dalat in France’s new colonies.

    The artichoke’s closely overlapping leaves are sometimes compared to fish scales, and they tightly enclose the tender heart at the bottom of the stem. The leaves are tough and fibrous at the top, but almost creamy at the bottom. A good quality artichoke should be of an evenly dull green colour and feel heavier than its size suggests. Both the heart and the leaves are used in cooking, but the Vietnamese also occasionally add the spectacular purple flower to soups and stir-fries.

    The Vietnamese actually prize the plant more for health than culinary reasons. The artichoke appears to be a medical wonder plant: it is a diuretic, improves the liver function, lowers cholesterol and even rejuvenates the skin! Most popular is artichoke tea, produced in and around Dalat and exported to the rest of the country and beyond. For the more openly health-conscious, there is also a cold drink available—stronger stuff made from artichoke leaves, stems and flowers.
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