Brittany is known for its artichokes, and they are in season here during all but the coldest and hottest times of year. When they aren’t, I turn to frozen artichoke bottoms (grown and processed in Brittany). They are oh-so-convenient and they instantly add a je-ne-sais-quoi elegance to everyday dishes. I keep them on hand to throw into vegetable medleys and pasta sauces for effect. Turns out, they make a splendid cream soup or potage, so long as you sieve it before serving  to remove any pesky fibers (not hard) and throw in some spinach to green up the color. Do not be tempted to make this with canned artichoke bottoms; they are a pale substitute and utterly tasteless.

Sumac, a dark red Middle Eastern spice with lemony flavor, adds just the right hint of citrus. (I tried the soup with ACTUAL lemon, and it overpowered the subtle artichoke flavor.)

1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. (20 g.) butter or oil, divided
1 small onion, chopped
2 300 g. (about 12 oz.) packages frozen artichoke hearts
4 oz. (100 g.) frozen spinach
sumac, for sprinkling, optional

Set 1 artichoke bottom aside for the garnish, if desired.

Heat 1 Tbs. butter or oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, and sauté 3 to 4 minutes, or until soft and translucent. Add the artichokes and 4 cups water (1 litre) or broth, cover, and simmer over medium-low heat 20 minutes, or until the artichokes are very soft. Throw in the frozen spinach, cover once more, and simmer 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, if making the garnish, dice the reserved artichoke bottom and sauté it in the remaining butter or oil 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel to drain.

Blend the soup with an immersion blender or in a food processor until smooth. Strain the soup through a medium-meshed sieve to remove any fibers. Thin the soup with more liquid, if necessary. Serve hot or cold sprinkled with the diced sautéed artichoke and a good pinch of sumac. Makes 4 cups

Frozen artichoke bottoms (from Brittany).

After the sieving.