Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Ginger Lime Sweet Potato Soup

Nothing beats a steaming cupful of thick, creamy, rich-tasting soup on a cold day. This is particularly enjoyable, to me at least, when I know that the soup isn't loaded with heavy cream. Not only does this make the soup much, much healthier, but it gives it a little bit of lightness that a soup heavy on the heavy cream wouldn't be able to achive.
Sweet potatoes are an excellent choice to thicken a creamy soup because they have a rich taste and smooth texture. They also can absorb a lot of moisture, which I find makes them incorporate more easily into a soup. Since they are, unsuprisingly, sweet tasting, I added a bit of cumin to downplay that sweetness; it doesn't take very much to highlight it. You can eiiher roast the sweet potatoes in the oven or peel and boil them until tender for this soup.
This soup is simple and has a nice tang to it from the ginger and the lime. The soup is very thick and rich tasting. If you like a soup that is less thick, just add 1/2 to 1 cup more liquid once the soup is done. It is lovely for a first course, but still satisfying enough to be an entree. Because of the lime in it, it goes very well when garnished with a bit of Fresh Cranberry Relish. If you have leftovers, you might need to add a bit more liguid to it when you're reheating.

Ginger Lime Sweet Potato Soup
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced onions
1/2 cup diced carrots
2-3 tsp grated ginger
2 tsp grated lime zest
1/2 tsp cumin
2 1/2 cups cooked, mashed sweet potato (about 6 medium potatoes)
5 cups vegetable stock (or water)
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper, to taste

In a large pot or dutch oven, cook the celery, onions and carrots over medium heat in about a teaspoon of oil until tender, about 15 minutes. Add in grated ginger, lime zest and cumin. Stir to combine. Add in sweet potato and vegetable stock, stirring to break up any large pieces of sweet potato. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, until flavors have melded.
Remove from heat and use a stick blender to puree soup. Or, working in batches, puree the soup in a blender. Stir in milk. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
Serve with a dollop of Fresh Cranberry Relish and, if desired, a squeeze of lime juice.
Makes 8 first course servings, or 4 main servings.