Spicy Sweet Potato Soup Recipe
This is definitely a week to stay in and make soup...
I have a current love affair with spicy sweet potatoes in general, but wow...this soup is the best I've had. My only regret is not making a double or triple batch. Soup, like most affairs, is not meant to last.
This soup calls for the New Mexico chili peppers I hunted down last week at Olives et Épices, but you could use another kind of mild dried chili, like Ancho, or substitute chili powder if you're in dire straits. I'm not going to judge anyone for being too cold to go find dried chilis. You can also skip the roasted red peppers, or use canned to make this even easier.*
2 dried New Mexico Chili Peppers, other dried peppers, or 1-6 tsp. Mexican chili powder (depending on your grocer and the heat of the chili powder. 1-2 tablespoons of a milder powder, 1/2 tsp. to 2 teaspoons max of hotter varieties)
2 tsp. olive oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
A few cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
3/4 tsp salt
A pinch of dried oregano
2 large peeled and roughly cubed sweet potatoes
6 cups of broth (chicken, vegetable or beef)
2 cups of corn kernels (frozen is better than canned, but if you use canned, leave out the teaspoon of salt)
2 tsp. grated lime zest
2 1/2 tbsp. lime juice (for the zest and juice, you really only need 1 very juicy lime)
2 red peppers
Cilantro, chopped, to garnish (optional, but very nice)
This is not tequila.
It's just a good way of showing how much lime juice and zest you need...Feel free to drink tequila while you make this, while you eat this, or as dessert...mmm...pineapple or mango flambé.**
1. Soak the dried peppers in boiling water for 30 minutes, then remove the stems, chop finely, and set aside. Leave the seeds in. Two chili peppers were enough, but I couldn't taste the heat, so if you like it hotter, try 3, and if it's still not hot enough, the next time try adding a diced jalapeno. There will be a next time.
3. Once the peppers are blackened, stick them in a heat-proof, non-plastic bowl or container and cover for 30 minutes. Sweating the peppers like this will also make them easier to peel. Since you don't need them right away because you did this before making the soup(!), you'll be fine.
4. Heat the oil on medium in a large pot and, when hot, add the onions. Cook and stir for 6 minutes, then add the garlic, oregano, chopped New Mexico chilis (or chili pepper), salt (if you're using frozen corn), and cook for 1 minute just to coat everything in the New taste of Mexico. See? Much catchier than "the taste of chili powder"...
6. It's probably been 30 minutes by now, so peel the red peppers and tear into strips. Set aside.
7. Zest the lime and then squeeze out the juice. Make sure you have at least an extra tablespoon of juice set aside in case you need to adjust the flavours.***
8. Blend the soup in a food processor or blender in batches. This is the most annoying step but the texture will be worth it. Use a hand blender if you have one. Do not:
1) Lift the blender lid while blending
2) Stick a utensil in the food processor to help the blending along
3) Get fed up and just eat the soup now
(Not that I've done any of those before, either...)
10. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, lay a few red pepper strips over each other artistically, dry your hands, sprinkle a little cilantro on it all, and call yourself accomplished.
11. OH! Then thank New Mexico for the miraculous combination of chili peppers, lime juice and sweet potatoes (the secular version of saying grace), and enjoy.
*This soup is inspired by a recipe from Judith Finlayson's Slow Cooker Recipes.
**Pineapple Tequila Flambé would be a great idea (Cook cubed pineapple with a sprinle of brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and a little of the pineapple's juice for 5 minutes in a skillet, pour tequila over top and light it on fire. Let the flames die out and serve. DON'T do this if you drank tequila while you were cooking and eating soup).
***Since the lime zest doesn't get to cook in the soup for very long, you can get a little extra lime flavour by soaking an extra ½ tsp. of zest in the extra lime juice or a teaspoon. of olive oil while the sweet potato is cooking, and adding it just before you serve the soup. It makes a beautiful lime-infused finishing oil.
Extra recipe #2 for those who made it to the end of the post:
Cranberry Scones (for when it's late and you're craving scones. It can happen, I hear)
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp butter
2 tsp. orange zest
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg yolk, whisked
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 tsp vanilla1/3 cup dried cranberries (or a cup of fresh cranberries, and add 2 more tablespoons of brown sugar)
1 egg white
Make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature. This can foil even the most exceptional scone-makers.
1. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
2. In a medium bowl, cut the room-temperature butter into pieces and beat with the orange zest for 1 minute. Gradually add the brown sugar and beat on high for 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk slowly, beating for 2 minutes.
3. On low speed beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture. On medium speed beat in half the yogurt. Back to low speed and beat in half the remaining flour. On high speed beat in the rest of the yogurt and the vanilla. Finally, on low speed beat in the last of the flour. Trust me, this will give you a really good texture. Don't cheat.
4. Fold in the cranberries.
5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and shape into 2 balls. Roll it out or spread it with your hands to circles about 3/4" thick (6 inches in diametre). Put the dough on a baking sheet and cut each circle into 6 wedges.
6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly beat the egg white and 1 tbsp. of water in a bowl with a fork. Brush the glaze lightly on top of the dough. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until the scones are golden.