It’s soup season! Well, in this part of the world anyway. If there is one forgiving aspect of winter, it is all the comfort food. If you’re going to put on cosy weight, you might as well do it the right way and eat only delicious delights. Sweet potatoes and spices are the perfect things to warm the cockles of your heart this winter.
I cannot stand being cold. Especially when you’re outdoors, underdressed and you can’t do anything about it. Having had a few of these experiences, I do what I can to avoid the outdoors at all costs. This in turn results in me spending lots more time at home, in my kitchen, eating. I steer clear of cold food, so my salad intake drops dramatically. I need to find ways to continue to get in enough veggies, so I end up make an obscene amount of soups.
Dependent on what mood you’re in, soup can either be a really quick dinner, or a labour of love. The perfect soup is one that tastes like you put your soul in it, without having to be in the kitchen all day. This soup tastes wonderfully complex, which is fantastic, as all you need to do is bung things in a pot and wait.
Ingredients (serves 4)
800 g sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
150g white onion, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks
150g leeks, sliced
3 tablespoons cooking oil (I use canola)
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon white pepper
¾ teaspoon paprika powder
750 ml vegetable stock
4 – 5 stalks of thyme
2 teaspoons brown sugar
⅓ cup soy cream
½ cup sliced leeks
Begin by peeling and cubing the sweet potatoes. Next peel and chop the onion, celery and leeks. I cut all the vegetables to about 1.5cm pieces. You do not need to finely chop the vegetables, but smaller pieces do mean that everything will cook faster.Heat the cooking oil in a large pot on a medium heat then fry the cayenne pepper, white pepper, oregano and paprika for 1 – 2 minutes. Stir constantly and remove from the heat as soon as the spices begin to brown. Put the potatoes, onion, celery and leeks in the pot. Stir in the oil and spice mixture until everything is well coated.
Pour the vegetable stock into the pot and add the thyme stalks. I tied mine together with a piece of string to create a mini thyme bouquet. This way, I was able to remove them easily from the soup before blending.
Bring the soup to the boil, then turn the heat down to a medium and allow the soup to cook for 35 to 40 minutes. Take the pot off the heat when potatoes are cooked and a fork goes through them easily. Remove the thyme bouquet and pour the soup into a food processor or blender. I blended the soup in two batches, just to make it more manageable. One could also use a stick blender, but I found the food processor to be the most efficient.
Once all the soup is blended, return to the pot and bring to a simmer on a low heat. Add brown sugar to taste, I used two teaspoons to gain a balance between sweetness and heat. Stir until the sugar granules are dissolved. Remove soup from the heat.
*This next step is not compulsory and if you adverse to soy products you do not need to do it. At this point I like to stir in a ⅓cup of soy cream. It lifts the flavour of the soup and makes it more decadent. If you don’t use soy products, you can use your dairy-free cream of choice, or just leave it out altogether.
Crack black pepper liberally into the soup and put in the remaining ½ cup of sliced leeks. Stir in the leeks and pepper and the soup is ready to serve. I prefer to leave soups to sit for at least an hour after making them. This allows all the flavours to mingle; I find that they taste even better the next day. This soup tends to thicken when you leave it to stand. If this happens just pour in a little water before re-heating.
I love to have this soup with crusty bread or Portuguese rolls. It makes the perfect dinner or lunch. Who am I kidding; it makes a great breakfast too. What are your favourite soups for fluffy-slipper season? Let me know xx