Sometimes when I can’t think of anything to write, I don’t write anything at all. I could expound upon my writers block, but instead, I thought I’d just start writing. I have grand plans of things to share with all of you for the holidays; food gifts I’m planning to give, appetizer party fare, and general bustling in the kitchen. I don’t blog as much as I would like, mostly because I am simultaneously right-brained and perfectionistic. I’m like a kid with a handful of confetti. I throw all the pieces up into the air, fancy free, and then, through the process of creating the recipe, experimenting with photography, and fussing over what to write, I slowly tie up the pieces into blog entries.
The perfectionism creeps in at different places during the process, and I use the term “perfectionism” loosely, as this mostly means I wait until it feels right before moving onto the next step–it could be looking for the “perfect” recipe idea, or the photograph that helps an ingredient shine, or the perfect subject to write about. I don’t want all the potential of holiday food blogging to pass me by just because I’m overwhelmed with wrapping my ideas in neat little packages.
This sweet potato soup, as is typical for me, was born out of a scribbled idea in my food-writing journal, and came together on the spot, for a last minute dinner with the mister and the mother in law. I envisioned a silky smooth soup, honey-laced, smoky and sweet, with slow-building chipotle spice. I debated over how to incorporate the chipotle into the soup, finally deciding to toss the sweet potatoes, onions and garlic in the adobo sauce and chopped chilies and roast it all up in the oven, as is my default in the winter. I whirred it up with some homemade vegetable broth, and served with a drizzling of olive oil and a scattering of toasted pepitas. We could taste each component of the soup, from the sweetness of the honey-infused sweet potato puree, to the smokiness from the chipotle chiles. The roasted onion and garlic lent depth in flavor, and rounded out the sweetness of the potatoes.
I hereby resolve to lasso a little more of my confetti this holiday season. How about you? Do you need more lassoing, or could you use a bit more confetti in your life?
Honey-Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup
Makes 6-8 servings
Using a whole can of chipotle chiles yields a moderately spicy, but still balanced soup. (Update: Some readers found a whole can of chipotle chiles to be too spicy. Feel free to adjust the amount of chiles according to your tastes)
3 1/2 pounds orange-fleshed sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large onion, peeled, trimmed, and cut into 1 inch wedges
8 cloves garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons canola oil
3 to 4 tablespoons honey, divided
1 can (7 ounces) chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (to taste, according to level of heat desired.)
6 to 8 cups vegetable broth
3/4 cups pepitas (pumpkin seeds), toasted
Extra virgin olive oil, to garnish
Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Finely chop the chipotle chiles, reserving the adobo sauce. In a large bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, onion, garlic, cloves, the adobo sauce, chopped chiles, canola oil, 3 tablespoons honey, and 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt. Toss well to coat. Spread in a single layer on two foil-lined baking sheets. Roast in the oven for about 45 minutes, trading the position of the pans halfway through, until the potatoes are soft and are dark golden in spots.
Put the roasted vegetables into a large saucepan. Add 6 cups of the vegetable broth and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Puree the soup using an immersion blender, or in batches in a normal blender. Be careful if blending hot soup in the blender–do so in small batches and hold the top on with a kitchen towel to avoid an eruption. Add the remaining 2 cups of broth as needed to thin out the soup. Season to taste with kosher salt, black pepper, and an additional tablespoon of honey if desired.
Garnish with a swirl of olive oil, a scattering of toasted pepitas, and a grinding of black pepper.