Winter time means soup time! It’s certainly chilly here in London and my frosty lawn is testament to that but I still find myself living vicariously through the east coast of North America and their snowmageddon (I miss the snow – c’mon, London, just one little dusting…). While I continue on in hope that snowflakes will come sometime this year, I’m making lots of soup in my kitchen.

This sweet potato soup was inspired by something very similar we had for lunch a while ago in Bistroy Les Papilles in Paris. It’s very simple too, with the main ingredients being just an onion and the sweet potatoes, of course. And I served it poured over a few ingredients placed at the bottom of the soup bowl. The only addition that is mandatory is the Greek yoghurt/creme fraiche – its tang is required to cut through the sweetness of the tubers. The rest is a bonus!

Greek Yoghurt, Croutons, Chorizo, Parsley

Sweet Potato Soup

Leftovers were even better – this bowl below was thinned a bit more and topped with just a few toasted seeds, a little black pepper and a blob of Greek yoghurt. And now I need to make more!

Leftover Sweet Potato Soup

Sweet Potato Soup
serves 4.

olive oil
1 small onion
1 clove garlic
6 small or 2 large sweet potatoes
a little bit of vegetable or chicken bouillon
salt and white pepper

To serve:
Greek yoghurt or creme fraiche (not optional!)
Parsley (optional)
Chorizo (optional)
Croutons (optional)
Toasted seeds (optional)

Peel and chop the sweet potatoes and set aside.

Heat a little olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Peel and chop the onion and cook in the pan until golden brown. Chop the garlic roughly and add it to the pan to colour a little. Add the sweet potatoes, the bouillon (I just chucked in a teaspoon of whatever I had) and add water to cover everything. Raise the heat to a boil, then reduce it and let it all simmer away until everything is soft.

Puree the soup using a hand blender or in a normal blender or if you don’t have that, mashing it all up works too. Or just leave it chunky – no one’s going to check! If it’s too thick, add water and ensure that it’s all heated through. Salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, chop up some eating chorizo, make your croutons and chop your parsley. Either (a) place a quenelle of Greek yoghurt at the bottom of your soup bowl, scatter with the toppings and then ladle the soup in at the table, or (b) ladle the soup into the bowls, add a blob of yoghurt and scatter over the toppings. Serve.

It’s great to be cooking on the weekends again! In a bout of cleaning and clearing the kitchen, my eyes set upon a half bottle of maple syrup that needed to be used up. I thought first of pancakes and waffles but then to sweet potatoes as I’d been wanting to try the combination of sweet and sweet to see if it would work as a savoury (do two sweets making a savoury? Nah…).

What came out of my experiment was this side dish, which we had with chicken last weekend. The sweet potato and the maple do go well together but there’s a bit of lime juice preventing everything from getting too saccharine. I do love pecan nuts so but you could also use walnuts.

Sweet Potato, Maple and Pecan Bake

This was the recipe I was making when I sliced a bit of the tip of my finger off with a mandoline. Pay attention when using these things, folks! They’re sharp and if you’re not paying attention (and I certainly wasn’t), it’s stupidly easy to slice off something unintentionally. In my case, there was just some bleeding and nothing that a plaster couldn’t sort out but it could have been much worse – mandolines are very useful but do take care!

Sweet Potato, Maple and Pecan Bake
serves 2-3 as a side dish.

2 sweet potatoes
salt and pepper
2.5 tbsps maple syrup
1 lime
a few handfuls of pecans

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Peel the sweet potatoes and then slice into thin rounds – I used a mandoline. Arrange in a suitable baking dish and season with salt and pepper. Combine the maple syrup, the juice of 1 lime and 3 tbsps of water and pour over the potato slices. Cover with foil and place in the oven.

After 45 minutes, take the baking dish out of the oven and peel off the foil. Chop the pecans roughly, scatter on top of the sweet potatoes and continue baking for another 20 minutes. Serve.

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