I gave myself an break over Christmas and New Years (and our anniversary as well). The break was unplanned, but I should have thought that far ahead. No need to cook when going to Mom’s place. Or eating Mom’s leftovers. Or eating out with friends or on a date. Or eating holiday gift junk food. If I’d have given it any thought in advance, I’d have known that I wouldn’t be cooking new things for those two weeks, and I would have posted a note saying so.
But this week we are back to work and back to the real world, so I am back to cooking. And, wow, what a great way to get back into the swing of things! This week I made Spicy Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup. It’s a recipe I printed out a few years ago from Real Simple and have been meaning to try ever since.
Spicy Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup (Real Simple, March 2005)
- 1 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes (about 3 large), rinsed
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp red curry paste (found in the international section of markets [Hey, even the commissary carries it!])
- 1 15 oz can unsweetened coconut milk
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 3 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro sprigs
“Preheat oven to 400 F. Put the sweet potatoes on an oven rack and bake for 50 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and let cool. Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Saute the onion and ginger until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Stir in the curry paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the coconut milk and broth, and gently bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, partially cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Skin the potatoes and cut into 1-inch chunks. Add the potatoes to the soup and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and salt. Ladle the soup into serving bowls. Drizzle the sesame oil evenly over the servings. Garnish with the cilantro.
Yield: 4 servings.”
First, just as a disclaimer, I copy down the directions as listed in the recipe. If it’s bad grammar, it’s not mine (unless it’s a typo). The uptight grammarian in me had to point that out.
Second, this recipe was great! No, it’s not something to cook when you get home late at night and are hungry, since the sweet potatoes roast for so long. However, the rest of the soup is amazingly easy, and it might be possible to roast the sweet potatoes in advance. And it just tastes so good! I used olive oil as my vegetable oil of choice–I always do, unless otherwise specified–and I used my own homemade broth, which is so much better than store bought. A friend asked if this recipe is something with which she could use her new food processor, and I say definitely. I didn’t, since the recipe didn’t call for blending it, but I think it would benefit from it. The sweet potato chunks and onion pieces tasted fine as called for by the recipe, but I think having a smooth puree might be less distracting while eating, so you can just absorb a smooth, consistent, amazing flavor.
This recipe meets a new set of criteria for me, as well. It can be vegetarian. My husband has recently thrown an even greater cooking challenge my way than I already have (with cooking gluten, dairy, and yeast free, and light in sugar). He would like to try eating vegan, and so, since I handle almost all matters of food in our household, I have to adjust for that change. I honestly don’t intend to personally give up meat entirely, not when I’m eating by myself, and I refuse to give up eggs or find substitutes for them for now, but otherwise I’m willing to cooperate with his wishes as much as possible. We already do without dairy in our joint meals, so for now it’s just a matter of finding substitutes for meat. We will see how much of a change that really is (or isn’t) for us. I’ll keep you posted. There’s lots of good food and recipes out there, regardless of dietary restrictions. We just have to FIND it.