Wednesday, November 28, 2007

sweet potato soup

Wandering through the grocery store recently I was wracking my brain for something to cook. I had a short list of necessities and enough leftovers in the fridge that I didn't really need to cook anything. I was getting a little tired of the leftovers however and was wanting something, anything, else.

I considered what we had available that could be turned into something edible, wondered what few things I'd need from the grocery store to make that happen. How these things work themselves out in my brain I may never know, but I'll try to make this quick and sensible.

I remembered that Momma had recently picked up more sweet potatoes than she needed for something she had cooked, so we had extra sweet potatoes sitting around. I continued to wonder what there was, how could I make it a meal and still spend little money?

Soup! which is not really how it occurred to me, but it came to me at some point, and it presented itself more as a potato soup with sweet potatoes than as an outright sweet potato soup. And who else should appear in this idea than everyone's favorite? Bacon!

Bacon! does appear and occur that way because it's bacon, simple as shit.

I'm not really a soup kind of guy for the most part. I enjoy soup, but it really needs to be a simple something to lead you to the next something, or it needs to be a stew that you're calling soup because you started out with soup in mind.

That night did not see me making the soup as I'd originally intended, and I can't know what would have come of that original thought. The idea did stick in my brain, and I had bought extra sweet potatoes and bacon with this soup in mind, so I knew I was going to eventually make it. That night actually finally came last night, some three to four days later than I'd originally conceived it.

In lieu of a recipe, I'll give you the short version of walking you through the steps.

Four slices of bacon were cut in half across the middle, stacked on top of each other and split long ways. I then cut it all roughly a half inch and tossed it into the pot which was on the stove at about medium high. I'd finely diced some onion, carrot and celery, and as soon as the bacon was almost over cooked I eased it out to drain, leaving the bacon fat in the pot to sautee my veggies. As the veggies began to take on a little brown around the edges I added a bit of flour, as if cooking starchy potatoes wouldn't thicken the soup enough. Next were those same potatoes, four sweet potatoes, peeled and diced about an inch, one can of chicken stock (a can because I haven't made any in a while) and enough water to just cover the potatoes. Add to this two tiny bay leaves, tiny because I always use the big ones first, and I'm down to the tiny ones.

At this point, if you are making this, you can maybe run and check your email or, as I did, remind Big Brother that his turn at the Nintendo is over and that The Boy gets his three hours of Spyro the Dragon now.

Something like twenty to thirty minutes will pass, though the soup is about to go into the blender/food processor, so you're welcome to overcook them if you'd like. After you achieve the texture you want in the aforementioned device, return the lot to the burner, add the bacon and as much cream/half&half/milk as you need to achieve the thickness you want. Add some nutmeg and white pepper and salt as well. Taste it and add some more of those same spices if you want.

I enjoyed it. Big Brother and The Boy ate some and didn't hate it. There's a little left over that Momma will get to try. I was happy with it, though I wasn't satisfied with it. I'm not sure what I'm going to change exactly. Mine ended up like mashed sweet potatoes with bacon, and I really do want it more of a soup. It really begged for more stock. I used milk as my dairy enricher and would prefer heavy cream, but that would require more still more stock. My aim is to keep the sweet potatoes as the primary flavor, so it's a balancing act between the three liquids. Also, at no point should one feel the need to add cinnamon and/or ginger because we aren't looking for a pie flavoring here.


Yes, for what it's worth, and for the sake of clarification, the proper word is "embiggen" as opposed to the "enbiggen" that I know I've used at least a couple of times in recent video posts.

You should all know without needing me to tell you that it's a Simpsons word, but I'm sure some of you don't, poor backward souls. The founder of the town of Springfield, Jebediah Springfield, is represented and honored by a statue of himself the base of which contains a quote of his, "A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man."

Thanks to Momma for pointing out to me the thing I should not have needed to be told as she read the most recent post in which I posted a video. Thanks to me for not making a really bad embiggening joke about watching Mr. Wainwright play the piano in that same post.


Timing kitchen work with NPR is a general goal of mine, and I have always enjoyed getting to listen to Terry Gross' show Fresh Air. Her guests today were Sharon Jones and Benjamin Roth of the band Sharon Jones and the Daptones. Both were fun to listen to as they recounted stories of their past and how this band came to be.

The band has an amazing old soul sound. Sharon Jones' voice has a great power to it that I really fell in love with. As Fresh Air ended and I brought our lunch to the table, I sat down here with some YouTube and proceeded to enjoy a number of the band's songs. As usual, if you like good music, I'm just the one to bring it to you.

HERE is the Daptones Records page at YouTube. HERE is a link to the song if you want to embiggen. Obviously below is the video itself here at my little ol' place.