Monday, March 15, 2010

for those fleeting winter days

now that winter is being edged out by the jonquils and forsythia, i can't help but feel a little twinge of nostalgia. even though i spent more time stressing about where to park my car this winter so as to avoid getting stuck in the snow and being unable to get to work, i am feeling singularly poetic about those sleepy, chilly winter days where, if i had the time to do so, i would have curled up under flannel blankets and had cup after cup of hot chocolate.

alas, fare thee well thou frigid old broad. the spring nymph is here. but i will indulge in one final comforting winter soup before boxing up the snow boots.

curried sweet potato soup:
in a hot oven (400?) bake your sweet potatoes. i used one large potato and one acorn squash. i would imagine that any winter squash would do just fine. bake until tender and mashable. mash them. i used a pastry blender, but i imagine this is what potato mashers are for, and in a pinch i have used biscuit cutters for this same purpose.

start sweating some chopped onions and garlic in olive oil. the finer chop the better because if you're like me you don't have a food processor or a blender (and if you have one the thought of cleaning it after an affair such as this makes your eye twitch), and this soup is supposed to resemble a creamed soup. so, let the sweating commence. go ahead and throw your spices in with the onions and garlic--curry, cumin seed, turmeric, coriander, red pepper flakes--because toasted spices have a nicer flavor, and the smell makes you salivate. oh, the anticipation!

once the alliums are transparent and maybe even browning a bit, add vegetable stock. homemade is always better (and shockingly easy to make from veggie scraps), but i'm not a teetotaler so do your thing. add a can of coconut milk (again, my preference is full-fat, but i'm aware that my youth allows me a certain degree of culinary hedonism). all quantities are subjective--basically, i made this recipe to serve three people, two of which are ravenous young men who are blissfully unaware of the concept of moderation. i probably used a couple quarts of stock and a can of coconut milk. throw in a few bay leaves for kicks. add the mashed potato and squash and bring the whole thing to a lovely simmer whereby the ingredients will all get comfortable with one another.

always, always, always add spices to taste. at this point you should taste what you've got so far and make any amendments you think necessary. i think i added a fair amount of sea salt and maybe some more curry powder. in hindsight i might've added a pinch of cloves, but that's just an afterthought. or maybe some garam masala, which is possibly my favorite spice in the world.

this soup is ideal served with some garlicky, homemade croutons. make this soup as often as possible while the chill is still in the air.

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