When people first meet me, and find out what I do for a living, I'm almost always asked "Hey Renee, what is your favourite thing to make?" Invariably my answer is always soups and desserts. If you haven't already noticed, I have a major sweet tooth. Love me some sugar. But I'm also a Taurus, and I crave comfort. Be it in my home or my food. Comfort food is king. And of course, you can't get more comfort than a big steaming bowl of soup. I'll make big batches of it on the weekend, and freeze portions so I have something to take out on a weeknight for dinner, because like you, I don't always feel like cooking after a long day at work. The soup has to be hearty, like a ham and lentil, or a spicy Thai noodle, with lots of shrimp and chicken. Or classics like minestrone, mulligatawny and of course cream of mushroom (but definitely not your Campbell's variety!)
This Roasted Yam and Garlic soup ranks right up there amongst my favourites. It's super easy, has loads of flavour and freezes really well. And it looks pretty! Yams are superfoods, and we should all eat a bit more yam. I like mixing mashed yams with good ol regular potatoes as a topping for Shepherd's Pie. Slice them into wedges, toss with olive oil, oregano, a bit of chili powder and Parmesan cheese and they make great oven fries. This soup has other roasted vegetables in it too, and the mellowness of the roasted garlic is a nice touch. Your house will smell amazing! Maple syrup, lime juice and spicy, smokey chipotle peppers are the stars of this soup though - the flavours complement each other really well. The basis of any good soup is a good stock. So either make your own chicken or veggie stock, or look for a low sodium organic variety in the grocery store.
Roasted Yam and Garlic Soup
3 large yams
coarse salt and pepper
3 garlic bubs (can roast with the yams, or roasted separately (slice tops off, place on tin foil, drizzle with olive oil, wrap up tightly,roast for about 30-40 minutes, until golden and fragrant)
2 red peppers
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 tsp. salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. ground sage
2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
3 tsp. chipotle puree, or chipotle hot sauce
8 cups of chicken stock or vegetable stock
1 tbsp. maple syrup
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat oven to 375*F
Peel and chop yams into 1-2 inch slices. Toss with 2 tbsp olive oil, coarse salt and pepper. Place on a parchment lined bake sheet and roast until soft and golden, about 35 minutes. If you haven't roasted your garlic separately, you can add the bulbs to the bake sheet as well. When done, squeeze the flesh from the roasted bulbs.
Halve and seed the peppers. Place them and the whole tomatoes on a parchment lined bake sheet and roast until skins puff and turn brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for 15 minutes. Peel away the skins, and set aside. (OR, you can add one small can of stewed tomatoes, and a few tablespoons of roasted red pepper spread, if you want to save a step. Still turns out
Heat the veg oil in a large soup pot. Add the chopped onions and saute until translucent. Add garlic and spices and herbs and cook until garlic is golden. Use medium heat. Stir in the seeded and roasted veg
and soup stock. Stir really well. Add the chipotle puree or hot sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Puree the soup with an immersion blender, and stir in the maple syrup and lime juice. If it seems too thick, add more stock. Season with salt and pepper, more hot sauce and lime juice if you like. Garnish with toasted pecans. (Recipe adapted from "Rebar Modern Food Cookbook)
Of course you can't have a nice hearty bowl of soup without a hunk of bread. I seldom make yeast bread. I love it when I do, but somehow I never find time for it, except at Easter, when I make this lovely egg bread, studded with dried fruit and nuts. But for everyday occasions, you can't go wrong with this rustic Irish Soda Bread. It's hearty and substantial enough and yet not lots of work. My favourite! With whole wheat flour and bran, it's full of fibre, and like I've said before, you can never get enough fibre!
Irish Soda Bread
2 cups all purpose unbleached flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup bran, or oat bran
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp coarse salt
1/4 cup butter, cubed
2 scant cups of buttermilk
Preheat oven to 375*F. In a large mixing bowl, add your dry ingredients. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter, until crumbly. Combine buttermilk and egg in a separate bowl. Stir this into the dry mixture, and stir with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. Turn out onto floured surface and knead gently about 10 times. Shape into round ball and place on parchment lined bake sheet. With a sharp knife, cut a X shaped slash in the top. If you like, sprinkle some poppy seeds on top. Bake for 50-55 minutes, until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Serve warm. Makes one large loaf. (recipe adapted from a Five Roses booklet)
There you have it ~ one of my favourite soups and my all time favourite quick bread.