My “New” Larousse Gastronimique (1977 edition) calls it “cardoon”, a name that sounds mediaeval. They are thistles, called “card” in Catalan, part of the artichoke family. We planted them last year in the vegetable plot, and this year they are, well, very dominant:
|Cynara cardunculus var Altilis|
Select 6 strong stems, trimming off the stem where the leaves start (and, in my case, giving all that greenery to the donkeys. They love it.)
Slice, cover in lemon juice (to stop them blackening at the cut edge) and boil for 30 mins. Drain.
Braise in butter.
Add 500ml of good chicken or vegetable stock and simmer 30 mins.
Add salt, freshly-grated nutmeg and, if you are a cheat like me a large pinch of turmeric to bring up the colour.
Add 250ml of full cream milk
Whizz with a liquidiser. If you really want your soup fibre-free, pass through a colander to get the largest of the fibres out.
Warm to just below boiling.
Serve in warmed bowls.
Eating thistle, Scotland's national flower, seems very appropriate. And even more so on a sheep farm where the dried seed heads of Cynara spp would have been used traditionally to card wool...