Archive for Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hot soups: the cure for chilly weather

October 31, 2007

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On a chilly evening or weekend afternoon, there's no more fitting meal than a steamy soup made with seasonal ingredients. And if the soup is quick to prepare, so much the better. It just means you can return to curling up under your afghan with a book or a favorite TV show that much sooner.

I discovered a soup recipe that suits just this purpose during the fall months. This sweet potato soup would be perfect for dinner tonight, as you wait for trick-or-treaters, or for a late afternoon meal this weekend, as you watch football or a movie.

I can also see this soup as the perfect main course on the evening before Thanksgiving, when you are putting together a light meal on the eve of the feast. Served with a nice bread and a salad, this soup might be the perfect way to welcome relatives in off the road.

If your family is open to experimentation with the Thanksgiving Day menu, this soup also would work as the opening course for the family dinner. Or it could accompany turkey sandwiches the day after.

In short, there are few occasions during the next month when it would not be appropriate to serve this colorful soup.

When I noted that the recipe calls for Tabasco sauce, to taste, I knew I had a winner. I love sweet potatoes, while my immediate family members are less enthusiastic. They will, however, eat anything that is doused in Tabasco - and sometimes apply it liberally to dishes that were not intended to be assaulted in this way.

Ordinarily, this is a tribulation and source of domestic conflict, but in this instance, it works to our mutual advantage. I get my sweet potatoes, they get their Tabasco, and everyone lives happily ever after.

The recipe is from "The Soup Bible," edited by Debra Mayhew.

Sweet potato and red pepper soup

2 red peppers, seeded and cubed

1 1/4 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 onion, roughly chopped

2 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 1/4 cups dry white wine

5 cups vegetable stock

Tabasco sauce, to taste

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Dice a small quantity of red pepper for the garnish and set aside. Put the rest into a saucepan with the sweet potato, onion, garlic, wine and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until all the vegetables are soft.

Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt, pepper and a generous dash of Tabasco.

Garnish with the reserved diced red pepper and serve warm. Makes 6 servings.

- When she's not writing about foods and gardening, Gwyn Mellinger is teaching journalism at Baker University. Her phone number is (785) 594-4554.

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