The tanginess of the lemon brings out the buttery, earthy flavor of the artichokes.
Prepare an acidulated ice bath: put water, ice and 1 lemon – the juice and the rind – into a bowl. Set aside.
Trim off and discard the small tough outer leaves of each artichoke. Trim off the bottom and sides of the stem, using a vegetable peeler. Scoop out the choke with a melon baller or spoon, cut them in chunks and put the artichoke hearts into the acidulated ice bath to prevent discoloration.
If you’re using baby artichokes, working with one baby artichoke at a time, snap off the tough outer leaves until pale-green leaves are exposed. Cut off the top third and compost. Using a paring knife or vegetable peeler, peel the dark-green layer from base and stem; trim stem. Cut each artichoke in half lengthwise. Place the artichokes in the acidulated ice bath as you work.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, celery and carrots and cook until the onion is translucent, about 6 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the vegetable broth, artichoke hearts or baby artichokes, salt and pepper and simmer 10 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth; return the mixture to the saucepan. Squeeze the juice from one lemon half into the pan. Place the other lemon half into the saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer another 10 minutes. Remove the lemon half from the pan and pour in the half and half or whole milk; stir. Continue to simmer until thoroughly heated, about 10 minutes.
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