Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Welcoming Fall

This weekend, we needed to use up our CSA share. With nearly fifty bucks left, we binged on a bushel of heirloom variety apples and whatever veggies were still left at the market. (Word to the wise: sleeping in feels good when you don't have the kid but works against getting the best Saturday market variety.) Among the things I picked up was a bag of small to medium sweet potatoes. I've never been a huge fan of sweet potatoes — the Yankee in me comes out sometimes — but I've been trying to expand my cooking horizons this year.

Richmond was finally graced with real fall weather this week. Last week's rains brought a change in the air, and we've been downright chilly at night. On my way to pick up the kid at her mom's class, I decided it was time to welcome fall properly and how better to do that than with soup — Sweet Potato Bisque. And lamb chops.

The kid has apparently lost her taste for sweet potatoes; she would have pesto pasta, the standby. Since she'd finished her homework, I drafted her help. She helped me put together the stock from TJ's concentrate and hot water. She rinsed the apple and the sweet potatoes, peeled the garlic, and added the apples and sweet potatoes to the sweated onions and garlic, stirring all the time. I did the chopping, and she helped with adding the spices as well. Next time, I will be sure to get pictures to have the events recorded for posterity. In the end, it was too bad that she didn't want to try the soup, but truth be told I was glad to be able to up the heat factor to balance out the sweet potatoes and apple.

The sides were pan-seared lamb chops simply dusted with coarse salt and pepper, a cucumber and pepper salad, and a couscous/lentil mix for L. Serve it with a red wine dry enough to counter the sweetness and full enough to stand up to the spice, or better yet get a nice saison to complement the flavors. In any case, here's the improvised recipe...


Keep in mind that this is all based on improvisation. It's largely a bisque because of consistency, and I opted for bourbon because we were out of sherry. With a good bourbon, it worked nicely.

1/2 stick butter
1 small onion
4 cloves garlic
1 apple
6 small to medium sweet potatoes
5 cups vegetable broth
1 roasted poblano pepper
Spices: cumin, fennel seeds, salt, pepper, fresh ginger, sweet and hot paprika, and saffron
Bourbon (approximately 1/2 cup)
Plain yogurt

1. Dice apples and sweet potatoes into 1 inch or smaller pieces
2. Chop onion and garlic coarsely.
3. Heat butter in large stock pot on medium heat and add onion and garlic. When sweated to shimmering, add the apple and a few mills of salt and pepper. Allow to sweat for five minutes and begin to add sweet potatoes. Add a dash of each spice and sweat a few minutes until the mixture becomes aromatic.
4. Add 4 cups of vegetable broth.
5. Bring mixture to boil for five minutes and reduce to simmer for 25 minutes or until the potatoes and apples are soft and break up easily.
6. Use immersion blender to puree mixture. Add additional stock and bourbon while blending. If you want a thinner soup, add extra stock.
7. Bring to boil again and drop to simmer for as long as needed.
8. Taste and add spice to balance. Should have a good bite that gives way to the sweet flavors and saffron mid-palate.
9. Serve with a dollop of plain yogurt, a pinch of fleur de sel and a rosemary sprig.

Will serve at least six.