Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup: a meal for a cozy winter evening

As I write this, the temperature is dipping into the teens, then the "zeros," the coldest winter night I can remember, and all I want is something warm, filling, and post-holiday healthy-ish to carry me through the freezing night. Look no further, frozen friends, for I have a root vegetable soup hearty enough to sustain you, packed full of all those vitamins and minerals we seem to lack through the cold months. It's sweet, savory, and utterly satisfying.

Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup
serves 4-6


3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced in large chunks
2 small leeks, white parts only, washed well and sliced
1 onion, diced

1 tablespoon of butter or olive oil
1 cup of white wine
4-6 cups of chicken or vegetable stock

1/2 teaspoon of paprika (or more, if you love the flavor)
dash of cayenne
salt to taste
juice of half a lime (optional)

to top the soup:
cashews or peanuts
plain yogurt


1. Prep work: peel the sweet potatoes and carrots, and chop them into large chunks.  Dice the onion. Wash the leeks thoroughly and slice them.

2. In a soup pot on medium-high heat setting, heat the butter or olive oil. Add the vegetables and a dash of salt, and saute for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables begin to smell fragrant.

3. Add the wine, and let the vegetables braise for 3-4 minutes more.

4. Add the chicken stock (more for a thinner soup, less for a thicker soup), stir everything around, turn the heat to medium, set a timer for 30 minutes, and come back and check if the vegetables are tender when the timer dings. Let it cook a little longer if the sweet potatoes are not easily pierced by a fork.

5. Dash in the spices: paprika, cayenne, lime juice (if using), and more salt to taste. Stir it all up.

6. With a handheld blender or working in batches with a food processor, blend the soup to the consistency you find appealing - I like a thick soup with a vibrant orange color, but have found that if I misjudge consistency, I can add a little more stock at the end of the cooking time and thin out the soup.

7. While you are blending, melt some more butter in a small frying pan. Pop the cashews or peanuts in there, sprinkle with salt, and get the nuts nice and toasty (about 3-4 minutes).

8. Soup in the bowl, yogurt on top, cashews on top of that, a dash of paprika, and you are all set to serve.

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