Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sweet Potato Orange Soup

I believe I've told you before that I first tried carrot soup, cold, at a French restaurant near Berkley when I was about 15. It was okay. I don't really remember it. I also had rabbit roulades that day -- Thumper. But something about that meal, that experience did convince me to try carrot soup again -- and to try several types of carrot soup until I found some I liked. Now, I love carrot soup. And I'm mostly vegetarian. Take from that what you will.

I had the pleasure of trying the inspiration for this soup at my local co-op, one afternoon when I decided I absolutely had to have something warm for lunch. The soup I tried was a beautiful orange color, lightly sweet, and gently spiced. It wasn't until after I'd finished the soup that I noticed the distinct taste of garlic. I tried it again another day, and this time paid attention to the taste of garlic. Sure enough, it was there all along. However, it's nicely softened by the cinnamon and orange juice.

The sweet potato makes this soup silky, the carrots boost the veggie content, and this is the perfect soup to make if you dislike onions, or have found that you've suddenly (gasp!) run out of onions. It doesn't use celery, which my friend Lauren would appreciate, and it doesn't use black pepper (which she would also appreciate).

I found it helpful to have an immersion blender, but you could certainly do this in a regular blender or food processor, in batches. This is an excellent soup for a cold day, makes enough to feed 5-6 people easily (especially served with bread and/or a salad), and is festive for the holidays! Even better, it makes use of things a lot of you probably have around for holiday meals anyway. I've tried this soup cold too, for breakfast, and while that definitely changes the flavor profile, I think it's pretty good eaten that way as well.

I wish I could have gotten better pictures of the soup -- but the lighting was not cooperating with an orange soup. If I get better pictures later, I'll update this post again. In the mean time, I'm off to eat some Sweet Potato Orange Soup!

Sweet Potato Orange Soup
2 teaspoons oil
1 large sweet potato, cubed
5-6 medium large carrots (about 1 pound), cut into coins
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
6-8 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Heat the oil in a soup pan over medium heat. Add the sweet potato and carrots. Saute 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the orange juice concentrate, pepper flakes, and water (6 cups for thicker soup; 8 cups for thinner soup). Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer 25-30 minutes, or until carrots and sweet potatoes are very tender.

Stir in the salt and cinnamon. Puree using a blender (or, my preference is for an immersion blender) until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve hot.

Serves 4-6 as a main course

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