Cream of Sweet Potato Soup
4 sweet potatoes (about 1 pound each)
2 quarts chicken stock (I use 2 quarts water and 1 ½ tablespoons of a high-quality chicken soup base - NOT bouillon cubes!)
1/3 cup butter
1 small can tomato sauce (the plain kind you find near the tomato paste, not spaghetti sauce)
1/8 teaspoon pepper (I just grind peppercorns in until it looks like enough)
2 tablespoons half-and-half
1 cup cashews (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roast the sweet potatoes for 45 minutes or until they are soft. Cool the potatoes until they can be handled.
2. Peel the sweet potatoes, then put them into a large saucepan. Mash them with a potato masher. (They don’t need to be entirely smooth.)
3. Add the stock, butter, tomato sauce, pepper, and thyme, and stir to combine. Place the pan over medium/high heat, and bring to a simmer.
4. Simmer the soup for an hour, stirring occasionally and scraping bottom to be sure potato pulp doesn’t stick and burn. Add half-and-half, and cashews if using, and simmer another hour. Cashews should be soft. Serve hot.
Note: You can simmer this practically forever – up to four hours, no problem.
Vegan variation: Omit chicken stock; substitute vegetable stock or water. After some simmering, taste; add salt if needed, up to 2 tsp.
Plan-Ahead: Roast, peel and mash sweet potatoes, and place in a 2-quart freezer container. Put in all other ingredients except water/stock. Freeze until you need it, then just thaw, add water and simmer!
Makes 6-8 servings.
The other soup I've been making lately is Julia Child's Potage Parmentier, a lovely and easy potato-leek soup:
3 cups leeks, white and tender green parts, sliced and sautéed in 3 Tablespoons of butter
4 cups potatoes, peeled and chopped
8 cups chicken stock
6 Tablespoons heavy cream
Garnish: chopped parsley or chives
In a large, heavy pot, sauté the leeks, then add potatoes and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until all are very tender--about 50 minutes. Puree the mixture (I love my stick blender), then correct seasoning.
When ready to serve, stir in the cream.
Vegan variation: The original recipe omits the butter and the chicken stock. Just simmer the vegetables in water, then puree.