I first tasted artichoke soup at The Stanford Court in San Francisco, and I found its flavor elusive yet captivating. This version incorporates a small amount of mustard to intensify the artichoke flavor.
1. Rinse the artichokes and drop them into a large pot of boiling, salted water. Cook, uncovered, at a gentle bubble for 20 minutes or until tender. Lift them out and immediately submerge in cold water. When cool enough to handle, pull off the leaves and remove the choke from the heart. Cut the heart into quarters and set aside. Using a metal spoon, scrape the flesh from the meaty leaves and place it in a bowl.
2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion and garlic and toss to coat evenly. Stir over medium heat until the onion is tender. Sprinkle on the flour and continue stirring over medium heat until the mixture foams. Stir in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. When the mixture is slightly thickened, pour it into the container of a blender or processor. Add the artichoke flesh and the quartered hearts. Whirl until smooth. Return to the saucepan and blend in the mustard and Madeira. Add the cream and place over medium heat. Warm the soup gently, but do not allow it to boil. Season with salt and pepper and ladle into soup bowls. Sprinkle with nutmeg and serve hot.