Sunday, March 30th, 2008

Curried Sweet Potato Soup

Seasonality is often a blessing in disguise. Just as much as anyone else, I've been chomping at the bit for summer produce to arrive, if not the whole shebang then ...

Seasonality is often a blessing in disguise. Just as much as anyone else, I’ve been chomping at the bit for summer produce to arrive, if not the whole shebang then at least some of the early spring greens. But we seem to be in limbo this weekend in late March: no peas in the pod yet, no sugar snaps or asparagus. No tender dandelion leaves to forage yet in no lush parks. When I arrived at the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket this Saturday, it was just late afternoon. There was literally half of one beet left in one farmer’s cardboard box. There were a lot of apples, though, and in general, a lot of stuff that I’d been eating a lot of for what felt to be a lot of time.

I was a teensy bit frustrated. But at least it still feels like spring, weather-wise, and given this I was dragging my bike around the market, squeezing through the tiny aisles trying to get an assessment of the final scraps of the day. Alas, the less desirable vegetables that remained were: cabbage, turnips, potatoes (including sweet potatoes), onions and a few carrots and parsnips. I snatched two of those spindly parsnips and loaded up for the week on sweet potatoes, just for a change, and with no idea on what I might do with them. Trying to eat seasonally and locally definitely has its limits. From now on, I’ll try not to augment those by getting to the market too late.

cool — my dry, chapped skin almost matches the tuber’s

The weekends are a good time to make a pot of soup. You can let it simmer to no end, and the heated leftovers are just as well as if it had been made that day. To further simplify not eating out, this weekend and hopefully a couple of days into the week, there’s few other ingredients needed when you’ve got something starchy and flavorful like a sweet potato.

sweet, faintly peppery parsnips give this creamy soup an unexpected flavor

This was a very simple soup, just what I needed for a busy day. I added just a pinch of curry powder to give the sweet root vegetables some heat, not blast away their natural flavors. A little whole milk gave it a smooth texture, and I skipped finishing the soup with butter this time, but you can always add some at the end for some extra richness.

a tangle of roots, in the pot

bzzzzzz

Curried Sweet Potato Soup
(makes 2-3 servings)

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut to 1″ pieces
1 medium parsnip, peeled and chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1-2 teaspoons hot curry powder
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy pot, cook the onions with the butter on low for about 5 minutes, stirring. Add the parsnips, chopped rosemary, a pinch each of salt and pepper and continue on low to cook another 5-6 minutes. Reduce heat if onions begin to brown. Add the sweet potatoes and stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 30 minutes.

Use a hand food processor to blend soup into a creamy, almost-smooth consistency (I prefer to have just a few tiny lumps, but not many). Or, transfer to a food processor and blend in batches. Return to low heat, and add a bit of the curry powder, some salt and a little pepper. Taste for seasoning, and add more curry and/or salt according to taste. Add the milk and stir until completely heated through. Adjust seasoning if desired. Garnish with optional fresh herbs (such as parsley) and serve.

Cost Calculator
(for 2-3 servings)

2 sweet potatoes (at $1/lb): $1.00
1 parsnip (at $2.50/lb): $0.25
1 small onion (at $1.25/lb): $0.30
2 cups homemade chicken stock: $0.25
1 cup milk: $0.60
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary (at $2/bunch): $0.25
2 teaspoons curry powder, salt and pepper: $0.40
2 tablespoons butter (at $4/lb): $0.25

Total: $3.30

Health Factor


One brownie point: I can’t think of anything bad to say about this recipe, health-wise. Who knew that parsnips were more nutritionally dense than their vibrant cousins, carrots? And along with sweet potato, we’re talking Vitamin A, potassium and fiber to the max, plus B-vitamins, Vitamin C, folate and calcium (and that’s not counting the milk in this recipe). Despite their strong flavors, sweet potatoes and parsnips happen to be relatively low in calories and are highly recommended complex carbohydrates. How did that happen??

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20 Responses to “Curried Sweet Potato Soup”

  1. Joanna says:

    Ohhhhh, I had a similarly sad experience at the Union Square greenmarket last weekend. I almost bought a box of baby pea shoots just to get my springy-green fix, but at $10/half pound, I figured I should wait another week or two. I want my spring! Warmish weather and tasty veggies! In the meantime, though, your soup does look very tasty.

  2. michelle @ TNS says:

    i didn’t know that about parsnips – now i feel even better about loving them! seriously, i freaking love them.

    i feel you on the spring lust, though. thank god for asparagus.

  3. Matt says:

    I made a nice winter vegetable soup this weekend as well, but i opted to roast the squash in the oven first. I’m sure it was a bit more of a mess, but I think roasted vegetables have a sweetness that stewed do not.

    See you Wednesday.

  4. amanda says:

    I keep telling myself that in a month or so we’ll be getting wonderful produce here in California but I am too impatient. This recipe looks good enough to shut my complaining mouth up. I better savor what I got, right?

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  6. nbm says:

    There’s one thing you can forage already: wild onions. I pulled some at Easter from the tiny garden area in front of my hostess’ apartment building and snipped them onto our vegetables; I’ve also seen them in Central Park.

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  8. Food E says:

    Sweet potatoes should be free to keep the rigours of the Scottish winter at bay. Yeh so it’s only August but in preparation for what’s ahead the soup is on – now!
    Will report back after feeding it to 6 others……..

  9. Mid-Continent says:

    I just dug up a half bushel of sweet potatoes and had to find something better than brown sugar and MARSHMALLOWs! This looks great! The high this weekend is supposed to be in the 50′s. Can’t think of anything better than soup, yum…

  10. nptexas says:

    I made this today and, man-oh-man, it is great! Especially after sitting for a few hours for the flavors to settle. I think I’ll serve it at one of the holiday meals. Followed Matt’s lead and roasted the veggies in the oven–mostly because I’m lazy and it’s easier than peeling and chopping. Anyway, I’m so glad I found this blog and the soup is a hit.

  11. Serendipitous Soul says:

    Yumm I just finished making this and couldn’t be happier. It has such a great flavor. I was hesitant about the curry powder but I have to say that it really complemented the sweet potatoes. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  12. Dennis & Erika says:

    We’ve made this several times and it’s my new favorite!

  13. Wayne says:

    Hey this is what food is all about and so many great recipes wow the spices so long in my life spices wouldnt touch the food now so love it the hotter the better sweat dripping into the bowl and bring it on love u all wayne write to me if u want bye now god bless

  14. Ann says:

    This is quite possibly the best soup I have ever tasted in my entire life. A little hint on the curry powder though, instead of adding it at the end, fry it in with the onions. It has a much deeper flavor when fried.

    Thank you for sharing.
    Ann

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