Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sweet Potato Soup (or ANY vegetable!)

2 Tbls olive oil
1½ lbs sweet potato (4-5 cups)
1 lg onion, diced
1 Tbls butter
3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
3 C chicken broth
1 to 1½ C cream (or half & half, whole milk)
salt & pepper
SEASONING & SPICES: ½ C brown sugar, 2 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp ground nutmeg, ½ tsp cayenne pepper
Optional GARNISH: chopped honey-roasted peanuts or cran-apple relish

Peel sweet potatoes and cut into 1" chunks.

Heat oil over medium-high heat in large/deep sauté pan. Add sweet potatoes and onion; sauté, stirring very little at first, then more often, until potatoes and onions start to turn golden brown (about 7 or 8 minutes).

Reduce heat to low and add butter and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are caramel in color (about another 10 minutes). Add spices and continue to sauté until fragrant (less than a minute).

Add broth; bring to simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until potatoes are tender. Purée until very smooth. (I use my immersion blender and purée right in the pot.)

Add cream, blend. Salt and pepper as desired. Serve hot with chopped honey-roasted peanuts or cran-apple relish as a garnish. A splash of hot sauce also adds a tasty zip to this sweet and creamy soup.

VARIATIONS: This basic soup recipe can do a LOT just by substituting different vegetables and spice/herb blends instead of the sweet potato and sugar/ginger/nutmeg/cayenne used above. Try any of these or experiment with your own:

Potato Rosemary Soup:
Vegetable: 1½ lbs peeled russet potatoes (You may not want to purée all of the potatoes; leaving some in chunks adds texture to the soup.)
Spices: 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, 2 tsp rosemary
Garnish: crumbled bacon

Carrot Curry Soup:
Vegetable: 1½ lbs carrots
Spices: 2 Tbls curry powder
Garnish: chopped roasted pistachios

Cinnamon Butternut Squash Soup:
Vegetable: 1½ lbs peeled, seeded butternut squash
Spices: 1½ tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ground ginger, ¼ tsp ground cloves, ¼ cayenne
Garnish: store-bought apple chips

Broccoli Mustard Soup:
Vegetable: 1½ lbs broccoli (7-8 Cups), peel stems before chopping to 1" chunks
Spices: 1½ tsp dried mustard, ½ tsp basil, ½ oregano, ¼ cayenne
Garnish: toasted pine nuts (To toast, heat skillet over medium-low heat. Add pine nuts; stir and shake skillet frequently until nuts are fragrant and golden brown.)

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