Ever have those days where you look in the refrigerator and try to figure out what to make for dinner? You rustle through the veggie drawer. . . oh look, some limp carrots! And over on the counter is a slightly wrinkly sweet potato, not past its prime but well on the way! This is what I call a soup day. Soup is a wonderful way to use up ingredients that are not at their freshest, but not ready to be composted either.
In a perfect world I would always have a kitchen stocked with fresh meat, cheese, fish, fruits and vegetables, all ready to be consumed at the peak of freshness! I don’t live in a perfect world, and some days I am damn glad to even have a frozen pizza to fling into the oven.
But this soup is easy and makes use of a few vegetables you have laying around. I started out with 6 carrots, but the kid came along and absconded with one. But that is the beauty of this soup. Nothing needs to be exact. So I use on less carrot. . . it still tasted fantastic.
The only prep you have to do is peel and cut the veggies. Then you throw everything into the pot and let it cook until tender.
Once the veggies are tender, puree them until smooth. I like to use an immersion blender so I don’t have to make more dirty dishes, such as if I use a food processor. Your puree with be thick so use milk, half and half or cream to thin it to your desired consistency. I actually used 2% milk, and it was delicious. If you want it richer, use whole milk. If you want it decadent, use half and half or cream!
Just to be kind of fancy I put a dollop of fat free Greek yogurt on top. Sour cream or crema would also be very tasty.
If you would like try variations of this soup using parsnips, butternut or acorn squash, or kabocha squash.
Spicy Carrot-Sweet Potato Soup
by Cheryl D Lee March-6-2012
Warming spices cinnamon and chile are pureed with beta-carotene filled carrots and sweet potatoes, making a richly satisfying appetizer soup or main dish meal.
1 medium or 1 1/2 pounds sweet potato, peeled and diced
4-5 small or 5 ounces carrots, peeled and sliced into large chunks
4 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground chipotle chile powder
1 – 1 1/2 cups milk, half and half or cream
Place the sweet potatoes, carrots, broth and spices into a medium pot. Stir to mix the ingredients together. Bring the pot to a a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. With an inversion blender puree the soup in the pot. If you do not have an inversion blender, carefully ladle the soup into a food processor or blender, then puree until smooth. Return the soup to the pot. Add your choice of dairy product to thin the soup to the desired consistency. Taste the soup, then adjust the salt if needed.
Prep time: 10 mins Cook time: 30 mins Total time: 45 mins Yield: 6 servings
Summer has come and gone, and fall is upon us. I love fall, when the weather gets cool and crisp. Well, since I am back in Southern California, I’ll use my memories of life in NYC for the temperature. My neighborhood does have a lot of trees that change color and lose their foliage, so while it may be 80 degrees, the red and yellow leaves begin falling gently to the ground. The squirrels scurry about burying acorns, only to forget where they hid them. Yes they’re rodents, but they are cute rodents!
The bounty of produce in summer includes some of my favorite fruits and vegetables, but fall has it’s own luscious bounty. Winter squashes, all sorts of potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, chard, apples, pears, persimmons, quince, pumpkins…too many to name here.
When a cold spell hit, for all of two days, I wanted something warm and comforting in my belly. I had just made 8 quarts of chicken stock the previous weekend, so soup came to mind. In my freezer was a giant Costco size bag of organic corn. Oh yes…corn chowder. If it was still summer I would have used fresh corn, but frozen works just as well. But in the interest of doing something different I decided to try using sweet potatoes instead of the usual white potatoes for my chowder. Salty bacon, sweet potatoes and corn…yeah that would work. At least I hoped it would, since I was developing this recipe for the first time.
Lucky for me and you too, it turned out to be rich and scrumptious.
Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder
5 slices bacon, thinly sliced
4 TB butter
1 medium onion, small dice
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 medium sweet potatoes (yams), small dice
2 quarts chicken stock
1 large sprig fresh thyme
6 cups corn kernels, thawed if frozen
1 cup milk, half and half or cream
In a large stock pot over medium high heat, saute the bacon until crispy. Remove and reserve the bacon. Melt the butter in the rendered bacon fat, then add the onions. Cook about 5 minutes, until the onions have softened. Stirring constantly, add the flour, salt and pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until lightly golden. This is a basic roux, which will help thicken your soup.
Add the sweet potatoes, and stir about 1 minute, until they are covered in the roux. The mixture should be fairly dry at this point, as the flour will have absorbed the fat.
Add the stock and thyme sprig, stirring well to mix all the ingredients together. Don’t worry about removing the leaves from the thyme sprig, as they will come off as the soup cooks. When the soup is done you can remove the bare twig, as that is NOT edible. Bring the stock to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are soft.
Add the corn kernels and cook about 10 minutes for the flavors to meld. Turn off the heat, then stir in the milk, half and half or cream. If you want the soup to be very rich use cream. I used milk and it was still delicious.
Serve your soup with crusty bread and a nice glass of wine. OK, you don’t have to have the wine, but I sure enjoyed mine!
Some of the best things about summer are stone fruits, melons, and freshly picked tomatoes. I won’t even eat tomatoes in the winter, because they taste like cotton. And that’s if you’re lucky.
My neighbors Kate and Marc have a great organic garden in their back yard, and recently shared a huge bowl of tomatoes with me. Unfortunately this was because they had evacuated for the week because of the horrible Station Fire here in Southern California. My family had also left, but we were back in the house when Marc had to come back for a day. He shared this incredible bounty with us before heading back out of town to be with his family.
Being a food blogger, the first thing I had to do was take a picture. Then being a chef I began to think of what to make with all those tomatoes! Hmmmmm, a lovely and colorful salad? Tomato sauce? Tomato soup? Ah Ha! (cue lightbulb above head) A lovely and colorful tomato soup…no make that bisque! These beauties deserved a little extra, and bisque has that little extra something.
Then the chef took over again, and I decided to expand the flavor profile further by slow roasting the tomatoes with shallots and basil. Once I had that intense flavor base, then I knew I could do these tomatoes justice.
I kept the tomatoes whole, with the exception of the larger roma tomatoes. I sliced and added a very large shallot, sprinkled some dried basil and drizzled some olive oil, and they were ready to go into the oven.
Two hours later, the tomatoes and shallots were soft and fragrant. At this point if you were not interested in making bisque, you can serve these tomatoes over cooked chicken or pork, as a bruscetta topping, or even tossed into pasta or a green salad.
Slow Roasted Organic Tomato Bisque
About 4 cups of organic cherry tomatoes or larger tomatoes halved or quartered
1 large shallot, sliced + 1 TB chopped shallot
1 1/2 tsp dried basil, divided
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup shredded or diced carrots
1 tsp sea salt, divided
1/4 tsp dried thyme
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup water
2 cups half & half
1/2 cup dry sherry
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Heat oven to 200 degrees F. On large sheet pan spread tomatoes, sliced shallot, 1 tsp dried basil and olive oil. Roast for about 2 hours, until soft and carmelized.
In a large deep pot over medium heat, add the oil from the roasted tomatoes. Saute the chopped shallots, carrots, remaining 1/2 tsp basil, 1/4 tsp thyme and 1/2 tsp sea salt for 3-4 minutes, until softened. Add the roasted tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes for flavors to meld.
Add the vegetable stock and water, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer the vegetables for 30 minutes, until very soft. Carefully transfer the vegetables to a food processor, and puree until very smooth. If needed, do this in smaller batches. Wipe out the pot if there are seeds or skins inside, then return the puree to the pot.
Over low heat, stir in the sherry, half & half, remaining 1/2 tsp sea salt and pepper. Simmer (do not let it boil) bisque for 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning to your taste if needed.
I had a bit of a garnish FAIL, as I forgot to pick some fresh basil while at a friends house for a Labor Day BBQ (lots of wine, hot sun, whatever…) But I did manage to get a dollop of sour cream on top, which I recommend for this savory slow roasted organic tomato bisque.