Thursday, January 23, 2014

Sweet Potato Soup with Chorizo, Chickpeas, and Kale

One of the most genius things I've gleaned from my time pouring through Joe Yonan's cookbooks recently is the idea of making a concentrated soup base. Invest a little extra time one day, and you'll have a freezer full of flavorful foundation for diluting and dressing up at dinner time. This sweet potato soup base, while delicious all on its own, becomes something truly spectacular with a topping of savory chorizo, crispy chickpeas, and earthy kale. Rendering the fat from the chorizo quickly infuses the chickpeas and kale with flavor, creating the perfect crispy, spicy topping for the sweet and silky soup. This soup deftly balances indulgent and healthy elements, but if you absolutely have to cut back or are a vegetarian, you can crisp up the chickpeas and kale in olive oil instead.

With one more sweet potato soup left in Yonan's book for me to try, I hardly wait to break the next portion out of the freezer - if it's half as successful as this variation, I'm guaranteed to savor every bite. Now to decide what personal touch I'm going to put on the final serving...

Sweet Potato Soup with Chorizo, Chickpeas, and Kale
adapted from Serve Yourself by Joe Yonan
serves 1

1 cup Sweet Potato Soup Base, defrosted if frozen (see below)
½ to ¾ cup water or vegetable stock
1 (3- or 4-ounce) link fresh Mexican chorizo
1/3 cup cooked chickpeas, preferably homemade, rinsed and drained
4 or 5 leaves kale, stripped from the stem and torn into bite-size pieces

1. Pour the soup base into a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in ½ cup of the water and cook until the soup is bubbling hot, 3 to 4 minutes. Add more water if you want the soup thinner. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and keep it hot.

2. Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Slice through the chorizo casing and squeeze the sausage into the skillet (or cut into small pieces). Cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until the chorizo’s fat starts to melt, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chickpeas and cook until the chorizo and chickpeas brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the kale and stir-fry until the kale wilts slightly, brightens in color, and gets a few crunchy edges, 2 to 5 minutes.

3. Pour the soup base into a soup bowl, top with the chorizo mixture, and eat.

Sweet Potato Soup Base
from Serve Yourself by Joe Yonan
makes about 4 cups

2 (10- to 12-ounce) sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
1 small leek, white and pale greens, thinly sliced
2 sprigs thyme
Kosher or sea salt
Pinch of curry powder
2 cups light chicken or vegetable stock, warmed

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

2. Use a fork or sharp knife to prick the sweet potatoes in several places. Place on a piece of aluminum foil
and bake until the sweet potatoes are tender and can be easily squeezed, 60 to 75 minutes.
(Alternatively, to speed up the process, microwave the pricked sweet potatoes on High for 1 minute,
then carefully transfer to the oven on a piece of foil. Bake until the potatoes are tender, 30 to 45

3. Pour the oil into a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. When it starts to shimmer, add the carrots,
celery, leek, thyme, and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine well, then decrease the heat to low, cover the
pot, and allow the vegetables to sweat in their own juices until very soft, 10 to 15 minutes. (Take care
not to allow the vegetables to burn.)

4. Scrape into the saucepan the soft flesh from the roasted sweet potatoes, add the curry powder, and stir
to combine, mashing the sweet potato flesh with a spoon. The mixture will be chunky. Stir in the stock
and combine well. Bring the mixture to a boil, then decrease the heat so the mixture gently simmers, and
cook, covered but with the lid slightly ajar, for about 15 minutes to let the flavors meld. Allow the mixture
to cool slightly, then remove and discard the thyme.

5. Use a handheld immersion blender to puree the soup base, which will be very thick. (Alternatively, you
can puree it in a blender or food processor. If using a blender, be sure to remove the center cap on the
lid and cover with a dish towel to let steam escape, and work in small batches to avoid splattering the
soup.) Taste and add salt if needed.

6. Let the soup base cool to room temperature. Divide it into 4 portions and use immediately, refrigerate
for up to 2 weeks, or freeze in small containers or heavy-duty freezer-safe resealable plastic bags,
pressing as much air out of the bag as possible before sealing. It will keep frozen for several months.

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