Artichoke Soup
Zuppa di Carciofi e Patate

serves: 4 quarts

I got this recipe from Guido Pezzini, the patriarch at Pezzini Farms in Castroville, California, who claims that just about every dish his mother cooked included artichokes in some form. This soup is one of his favorites. The Pezzinis are a delightful and caring family, with Sean, the grandson, as the next generation in training.

5 medium artichokes
juice of one lemon
⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1¾ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and curt into 1/2-inch cubes
2 leeks, white and pale-green parts, sliced, washed well
3 shallots, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 fresh bay leaf
1 tablespoon kosher salt
⅛ teaspoon peperoncino flakes
4 quarts cold water
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving


Clean and prepare the artichokes. (To clean artichokes, fill a bowl with approximately one quart of cold water and add the juice of one lemon, plus the squeezed-out lemon halves. Peel and trim the stem of the first artichoke. Pull off any tough outer leaves and discard. Using a paring knife, trim away any tough parts around the base and stem of the artichoke. With a serrated knife, cut off the top third of the artichoke and discard.) Put cleaned artichokes in a serving bowl and toss with the lemon juice.

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes, and cook until they begin to stick to the bottom of the pot, about 5 minutes. Add the leeks and shallots, and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle in the garlic, thyme, bay leaf, salt, and peperoncino. Cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in the water and bring to a boil. Add the prepped, drained artichokes, and bring the soup to a rapid simmering. Cook, uncovered, until potatoes and artichokes are tender and the potatoes have broken down to thicken the soup, about 1 ½ hours.

Stir in the chopped parsley, and serve the soup with grated cheese.