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.
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.
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.
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.
(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