Prepare the artichokes for steaming: remove and discard tough outer leaves of the artichokes. From the top, scoop out and discard the innermost section, along with the stringy thistle part above the heart. You should be left with most of the leaves together with the heart.
Bring 1 to 2 of water to boil in a pot large enough for all the artichokes. Add garlic, salt, pepper, bay leaf, 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, and oil. Place artichokes on steaming apparatus in pot, cover tightly, and steam for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove artichokes and allow them to cool sufficiently to be handled.
Scrap the tender artichoke meat from the inside of each leaf (use a heavy knife for this). If the steamed artichokes are particularly tender, you may be able to dispense with the scraping and just cut off the top portions of the leaves. Purée the artichoke meat and artichoke hearts with the onion and chicken stock.
Add a final tablespoon of lemon juice. Simmer over low heat for about an hour. Add cream, adjust salt and pepper and serve.Servings: 6