Butternut squash soup can be found at just about any cafe or gourmet take-out this time of year. I love it. It's one of my favorites: hearty, sweet and warming. But there are times when other sweet winter vegetables require a moment in the spotlight.
We were blessed with a very successful sweet potato crop this year. Digging up the harvest was a total thrill (in gardening terms). I have been picking away at them all winter long to accompany steak in the form of oven fries, appearing alongside poached eggs in the mornings, or roasted whole to enjoy on their own, their tender skin caramelizing under the heat of the oven.
When I went to the basement to collect a few items for soup, I decided to go off my classic butternut squash course and reached instead for the sweet potatoes.
Roasting them with onions and garlic adds a fair amount of depth to the finished product, as does the creamy health-giving fat from whole coconut milk. A touch of fresh ginger and spices, and you may never look at a humble sweet potato the same way.
Coconut Sweet Potato Soup: (feeds a crowd)
*5-6 medium sweet potatoes
*1 large sweet onion, peeled and quartered
*4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
*olive oil for drizzling
*4 cups chicken stock
*3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
*1/8 teaspoon curry powder
*1/8 teaspoon coriander
*sea salt and pepper
*1 inch cube fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
*large pinch dried red pepper flakes
*1 can whole high quality coconut milk
*cilantro or fresh parsley for garnish
Preheat oven to 375.
Line a baking sheet with parchment. Wash sweet potatoes. Place on baking sheet with the onion and whole cloves of unpeeled garlic. Peirce sweet potatoes a couple times each with a small pairing knife.
Drizzle everything on sheet with olive oil, making sure to coat onions and garlic. Bake until sweet potatoes are soft, about 45 minutes to one hour. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Place a heavy soup pot over medium heat with chicken stock.
Peel skins away from sweet potatoes (they should slip off flesh fairly easily) and discard.
Place sweet potato flesh in the pot with roasted onion. Peel and discard papery skins from the roasted garlic. Add to pot. Reduce heat to low.
Add the cumin, curry, salt, pepper, coriander and ginger. Stir. Remove heat and allow to cool slightly.
Working in batches, puree soup mixture in a large Cuisinart or blender. Transfer puree to a large mixing bowl. Repeat with remaining soup mixture.
Return pureed contents to the soup pot.
Set over medium low heat. Add the coconut milk and red pepper flakes. Whisk.
Heat thoroughly before adjusting seasonings and serving. Garnish with fresh cilantro or parsley.