Sunday, November 27, 2011

Autumn Harvest Soup

As autumn comes to a close, and the cold winds of winter blow in to most of the country, this soup evokes the essence of the fall harvest flavors. Combining pumpkin and sweet potato as a base, it expresses the characteristic hues of the season that are so beautifully displayed outside the window. I've also thrown in some warming spices (things like cinnamon, cardamom, etc.) and even apple cider to really create a sweet and savory soup. The recipe is easy to follow, and it is equally simple to substitute some of your own favorite flavors to enjoy!


4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 small sweet onion, chopped
2 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
¼ tsp nutmeg (freshly grated)
1 cardamom pod, grated
1 tsp Cinnamon
½ tsp chili powder
1 can pumpkin (100%)
3 sweet potatoes, chopped (peeled)
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup white sugar
1-1.5 cups milk
½ cup cream
3-4 cups apple cider
Crisped bacon bits
Dollop of freshly whipped cream (optional)

Melt butter in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and ginger, and cook until soft (5-10 minutes). Add nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, chili powder, and some salt and pepper. Cook for just a minute, and then add sweet potatoes. Let the sweet potatoes get some of the flavor from the spices and a little brown. 

Next, add the cider and pumpkin puree to the pot (enough to cover potatoes). Once the mixture comes to a slow boil, reduce the heat to low and let simmer, covered for 20-30 minutes until potatoes are soft.

Once the potatoes are fully cooked, use an immersion blender to make a smooth blend. As a side note, an immersion blender is an extremely useful tool to have - reasonably effective ones run about $30 (no need to buy $100+ versions if you use them sparingly like me).  If you don't have an immersion blender, use a a regular blender and blend the soup in batches before returning to the stove top. Keep heat on low, and add sugars. When the sugars are fully incorporated, add the milk and cream, whisking to incorporate. Salt to taste, and again cover and let simmer.

In the meantime, fry a few pieces of bacon. Try to get them as crispy as possible, as they are to be used as bacon bits. When they are ready, break them up and set aside. Reserve a bit of the bacon grease. 

Lastly, whip some fresh cream with a bit of sugar until you get a thick consistency. I also added a bit of grated cardamom to create a cardamom cream. You could just as easily use cinnamon, vanilla, or your favorite flavor. To serve, ladle some of the soup into a mug or bowl. Top with some of the whipped cream and bacon bits (and a bacon "stick" as I've done below). Finally, drizzle a bit of bacon grease (or olive oil if you prefer), serve, and relish the season!


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