Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sweet Potato and Apple Cream Soup: An Unlikely Thanksgiving Post

Of all of the things that I could talk about on Thanksgiving, like poultry of some kind (turkey, goose -- I really wanted to make goose -- chicken (capon, anyone?), or duck -- I really, really wanted to make a roasted duck), I choose to talk about sweet potato cream soup? Am I serious? Yes. Because it was crazy good and something different and interesting. Plus, my mom beat me to the punch and cooked pretty much everything else last night, leaving me with a few sweet potatoes and a "do something with these... if you can!!!" challenge. Thanks, Mom.
"Wow, Jim, that's really, really, really, really good soup, and that's coming from someone who doesn't like sweet potatoes at all!" That was my mom's reaction to this stuff. Like I said, it was crazy good. So how did I do it?

It started with my small pile of sweet potatoes: five small ones, as I would reckon them, all of the orange variety. I peeled them and chopped them into roughly three-quarters-inch cubes and dropped them into some cold water. On a whim, I added a red delicious apple (the only kind I saw at Mom's house, though I would have preferred Granny Smith for this), peeled, cored, and cut up similarly. That water got boiled until the sweet potatoes were nice and soft.

Once it was done, I drained the pot and put all the solids back into the pan with about half a stick (2 tbsp.) of butter, probably 12 oz. of whole milk, a pinch of salt, a half teaspoon of good cinnamon powder, and a quarter of a cup of brown sugar. I also added a tablespoon of whiskey (by which I mean "bourbon" since I'm from the Southeast) because it's the holidays. After a few minutes of cooking on medium, I whipped out the immersion blender and blended it until it was quite smooth (this could be accomplished in a regular blender as well). Then I ran it through a relatively fine chinois to make it nice and smooth, putting it into a clean pan over medium-low heat.

To finish it, start off by adding 2 more tbsp. of butter and stirring it through as it melts. Then taste it. It should not taste flat. If it does, you probably need another pinch of salt to wake up the flavors and a little more cinnamon, sugar, and/or butter (or why not a little of all of them?). Use sugar to your desired level of sweetness. For what it's worth, I would have garnished this with a small dollop of marshmallow fluff right in the middle of the bowl, and, of course, it is served hot as a wonderful starter for a good fall (or any time!) meal. Oh.. and as much of the sweet potato could be substituted out for squash as you'd like. It would still work wonderfully!

Summary of the recipe:

  • Five small sweet potatoes or the equivalent, peeled and cut into cubes;
  • One apple, peeled, cored, and cut into cubes;
  • 4 tbsp. (half a stick) of butter;
  • 12-16 oz. whole milk, depending on desired consistency;
  • A pinch of salt;
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon powder;
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. whiskey or bourbon.
Summary of directions:
Boil sweet potatoes and apple until sweet potatoes are quite tender. Drain. Lower the heat to medium and add the sweet potato mixture, half of the butter, and the rest of the ingredients back into the pan. Let cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring, and then blend until smooth with an (immersion) blender. Strain (and press) the result through a chinois or fine mesh strainer into either a clean pan or back into the original. Discard the pulp (or use it somehow else?). Add the remaining butter, adjust the flavors, and serve hot with an optional garnish of marshmallow fluff or fresh crema.

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