Ginger Sweet Potato Soup with Focaccia Croutons – CYOB

Thick, spicy sweet potato soup is perfectly contrasted by the crispy, buttery croutons.

Thick, spicy sweet potato soup is perfectly contrasted by the crispy, buttery croutons.

Create Your Own Bite #18

Ginger Sweet Potato Soup

1 Large Sweet Potato, Peeled and Diced

2 Teaspoons Fresh Sliced Ginger Root

3 Cups Water, Separated

1 Packet Splenda, or No-Calorie Sugar

Pinch of Salt

Fresh Cracked Pepper, To Taste

Stale Bread, Cubed, with Crusts Cut off and Spritzed with Olive Oil

This recipe makes 2 servings.

Estimated Calories: 115 [Without Croutons]

I’ve been voraciously reading Tamar Adler’s An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace, in preparation for her discussion tomorrow at Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro.  I’m so excited to enjoy a menu of food inspired by her book, and to hear her discuss her brilliant food philosophy.

Adler speaks largely about learning to remove the complications of cooking and return to the passionate preparation of wholesome meals. Using every part of every ingredient, and transforming things such as leftover boiling liquid into rich, delicious soup broth, is an important step Adler urges us all to make.  She shares her advice for being a responsible, mindful cook, and for appreciating and making use of everything in our cupboards, our gardens and our earth.

Her book is as much collection of recipes and cooking tips as it is a philosophy for living more whole-heartedly, and more carefully.

The perfect pairing of words and bites, as I prepare my croutons by way of Adler's advice.

The perfect pairing of words and bites, as I prepare my croutons by way of Adler’s advice.

Feeling inspired, and a bit confused by the strange array of leftovers on my countertop: the remains of a loaf of onion focaccia bread from when a friend came to visit this past weekend, a sweet potato from who-knows-when, and the usual miscellaneous herbs and spices in the cupboard, I decided to take a few leafs out of Adler’s book.

Tonight, I set to work by peeling and dicing a sweet potato, and adding this to a pot of boiling water [Chapter 1: How to Boil Water], adding in more water until the sweet potato was just-covered, about 2 cups. When the water returned to a simmer, I added in the sugar, ginger, and salt.

Lowered to medium heat, I let the pot simmer for about 25 minutes.

Cook the potatoes until the begin to fall apart with the gentle prodding of a spoon.

Cook the potatoes until the begin to fall apart with the gentle prodding of a spoon.

Meanwhile, I turned to Adler’s chapter on [How to Have Balance] for some insight on how best to treat my stale bread.

“Stale bread,” Adler says, “cannot be bought.  It must be waited for, which gives all dishes containing it the weight of philosophical ballast, as well as dietary and budgetary ones” (85).

With her casual recipe in mind, I cut the crust off of the leftover focaccia, and cubed the slightly-stale bread. After a modest drizzle of olive oil, I tossed the croutons in the oven at 400 degrees, for just under 15 minutes.

Then I returned my attention to the soup.  Once the potatoes are soft and begin to collapse under the pressure of a wooden spoon, transfer half of the mixture into a food processor, and blend until smooth.  If you haven’t already, this is a good time to taste-test.  For spicier soup, add in a pinch of cumin.  For sweeter soup, add a teaspoon or two of sugar-free maple syrup (such as my go-to from Maple Grove Farms).

I don’t know if Adler would agree with me on the last bit, nor the spartan use of olive oil.  But at Little Word Bites, I’m still comitted to finding the perfect balance between eating well, and eating healthy. I found that my croutons crisped right up, and that my soup was perfectly smooth, without the added oil, but feel free to adjust this to your taste.

After all the chunks of potato have been smoothed out, return the mix to the potatoes still simmering on the stove.  Thin the soup out with more water, as much as another cup.  When the soup has returned to temperature, remove from the heat and pour yourself half.  If your roommate is hungry, give her the other half, too.

Top each bowl with a few croutons hot from the oven, and a quick crumble of Fat Free Feta. And then enjoy.

To round out my meal, I took a final piece of advice from An Everlasting Meal, in Adler’s chapter on [How to Season a Salad.] “Lettuce salads should be simple, with only one or at most two other ingredients…” To accompany my Sweet Potato Soup, I chopped up a head of fresh iceberg lettuce, quartered a handful of grape tomatoes, and a single persian cucumber.

The crisp, raw salad was just the right note to balance out the soup.

Until later this week, when I fully expect to have more advice from Adler and a very happy, content stomach.

-Melanie

 

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