Make stuffing: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread bread crumbs in a shallow baking pan and bake in middle of oven until pale golden, about 10 minutes. Cool crumbs completely, then toss with Parmesan, garlic, parsley, soppressata, zest if using, salt, and pepper. Drizzle oil over crumbs and toss to coat evenly.*
Trim and stuff artichokes: Cut off artichoke stems and discard. Cut off top 1/2-inch of 1 artichoke with a serrated knife, then cut about 1/2-inch off all remaining leaf tips with kitchen shears. Rub cut leaves with a lemon half. Separate leaves slightly with your thumbs and pull out purple leaves from center and enough yellow leaves to expose fuzzy choke. Scoop out choke with melon-ball cutter, then squeeze some lemon juice into cavity.
Trim remaining artichokes in same manner.
Spoon about 2 tablespoons stuffing into cavity of each artichoke and, starting with bottom leaves and spreading leaves open as much as possible without breaking, spoon a rounded 1/2 teaspoon stuffing inside each leaf. Top each artichoke with a slice of provolone.
Cook artichokes: Put water, wine, oil, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper in pressure cooker (without insert) or pot and arrange stuffed artichokes in liquid in 1 layer.
Seal pressure cooker with lid and cook at high pressure, according to manufacturer's instructions, 10 minutes. Put pressure cooker in sink (do not remove lid) and run cold water over lid until pressure goes down completely.
If using a regular pot, simmer artichokes, covered, until leaves are tender, about 50 minutes. Transfer artichokes with tongs to 4 soup plates and spoon cooking liquid around them.
*cooks' note: Stuffing may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.
Recipe courtesy of Gourmet Magazine