Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Recipe: Beta carotene soup with sweet potato, carrots and pumpkin

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So last week, home sick with a mild flu, I looked in the refrigerator and found a bag of carrots that needed a home. Then, from the 99 Cents Only store (yes, they have good produce, if you go early and are willing to take what they've got), came home two small pumpkins - not the good baking sugary ones, but still, pumpkins. And the box of sweet potatoes I picked up at Costco last week was staring at me, too. Sick equals soup, and thus that's what I made.

What is it about that craving for orange vegetables in the fall? I'm thinking it's some primal need to hone our night vision, knowing that shorter days and longer nights are ahead. I can never pass up butternut squash, and I am deeply indebted to Costco for carrying large packages of pre-cut butternut squash cubes at this time of year. I buy them four at a time, toss them with olive oil and salt, roast good and hot, and eat them like french fries.

But the soup: It's thick and creamy, but dairy-free. I like the flavor of coconut milk with orange vegetables. I used a very small amount of Thai curry paste to appease my kids - the kind I get is spicy - but use more if you like. And if you don't have a hand-held immersion blender yet, please, I beg you, make that your next kitchen purchase. If nothing else, you will cook more soup, because it makes it so, so easy.

There's an alternate title for this post, by the way: The Power of Croutons. By which I mean that in my house, if there are croutons on top of a bowl of soup, I am sure that bowl of soup will end up in the belly of my younger son. I never worry about the elder - he's a true gourmand - but the little one can be picky, in that maddeningly "But you ate it and loved it a week ago!" sort of way. I buy an extra loaf of bread every week or two, cube it, toss it with olive oil and garlic salt, and bake it until the bits are golden. When cool and stored in a sealed plastic bag or container, homemade croutons keep a good long time, and they have this magical soup-enhancing power - in my house, at least.

Beta carotene soup
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • salt to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp Thai yellow curry paste
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups grated or diced carrots
  • 2 cups roasted pumpkin flesh (canned is fine)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 4-6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
 Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the onion, sprinkle with salt, and saute over medium-high heat until the onion is softened but not browned. Add the garlic and stir 30 seconds; do not let the garlic brown, either. Add the Thai curry paste and stir until the vegetables are well coated with the spices. Now add the sweet potato, carrots, pumpkin, coconut milk, and stock, bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer uncovered about 30 minutes, or until the sweet potato is soft. Puree with a hand-held immersion blender in the pot (or in a countertop blender if you have no other choice - but I'm not coming over to do the extra dishes). Taste, add more salt if necessary, and serve hot, with croutons on top if you, like me, have a picky child. Crispy fried onions or shallots also make an excellent garnish.

9 comments:

Tasty Eats At Home said...

Beta carotene indeed! Sounds delicious!

Laura said...

Oh you were sick! I'm sorry to hear that. Hope you are feeling better now. That soup looks fantastic and yes croutons make everything better in our house too.
Feel better.

As for our trip we are unsure of days yet. We leave SF on Sunday and have to check in to Disneyland Hotel on Wednesday so I'm not sure when/if we can meet up. Figuring details out when the hubs gets home from Nashville.

Carrie Oliver said...

We made this soup tonight (with a few substitutions, including unripe (sadly) baking pumpkins & a bit of beef broth b/c not enough chicken broth on hand. Hello?! It was DELICIOUS. Thank you!

Jackie said...

Such an interesting soup. I've made carrot soup and squash/pumpkin soup before but never combined them. Plus I LOVE that it's dairy-free.

The Diva on a Diet said...

I agree, croutons *are* magical! I hope this delicious soup went a long way towards helping you to feel better, Erika. :)

Erika said...

I am feeling all better - thanks for your good vibes, everyone! And so glad you all liked the soup. I might be overdosing on orange veggies these days, but hey, we had spinach AND green beans with our steak last night, so there's been some green in there.

Maria said...

What a great soup for fall!

The Healthy Apple said...

I love harvest soups; this is a great recipe...I am always creating new hearty soups on my blog with root veggies...great post! I'm looking forward to meeting you at Foodbuzz on Friday in San Fran.

Anonymous said...

The coconut milk in this recipie ovewhelmes all the other flavors. I would put half as much coconut milk and three times the yellow curry paste should I make it again.

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