Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tuesday's Twist: Sweet Potato and Squash Soup with Citrus and Sage

Tuesday's Twist:  A basic recipe with a fun twist.  In other words, just another excuse for me to play around with weird recipes I've been dying to try.

The great debate over creamy vs. crunchy peanut butter is a cousin to the soup conundrum.  Generally I prefer a chunky soup with a variety of textures, but one sip of this silky smooth soup and had me swooning for another spoonful.  Now that I've mentioned peanut butter and used far too much alliteration let's begin.  I'll start by warning you that I was in a terribly indecisive mood while planning this pot of winter warmth.  You know, the kind of mood where I just want to add everything instead of keeping it simple.  Yeah, too many options and I get carried away.

A spoonful of creamy velvet was the one thing I was sure about here.  But our soup must be silky soft without using heavy cream.  Enter two secret ingredients, cauliflower and Greek yogurt.  After making a version of this cream-free cream of mushroom soup, I was sold on using cauliflower and Greek yogurt for a thick and creamy, ultra-smooth soup with extra protein but without the fat.  Lately there's been multiple versions of baked potato soup using the cauliflower trick for low-carb creaminess.  If it works with potato soup, why not sweet potato?

This is where that indecisive part I warned you about enters.  I've been reminiscing about a sweet potato and squash dish I made last Thanksgiving based on a recipe found in the October issue of Better Homes and Gardens.  It had the perfect blend of sweet and savory.  Zesty citrus from the orange and lemon was perfectly complemented with fresh sage.  Citrus, sage, squash and sweet potato plus the cauliflower and Greek yogurt trick.  And because it's soup I threw in an onion and celery, plus an apple for more sweetness.  Yes, all of that pureed into each spoonful. But hey, at least I made the decision to blend until silky.

Anyway, next time I'll skip the onion and add more apple.  Fresh sage would have been much better, but I only had dried on hand.  Be sure not to grate too much peel from your orange and lemon.  Just underneath the bright color is the pith, which will give a bitter aftertaste if you over-grate that citrus.  Man, I'm out of breath, that was far too much explanation for a recipe.  I think I'll just go insert that spoon into my mouth and repeat.

Sweet Potato and Squash Soup with Citrus and Sage

1 stalk celery, sliced
1/2 onion, chopped (next time I'll leave this out)
1 lb sweet potato, peeled and cut into pieces (about 1 medium-large sweet potato)
1 lb butternut squash, peeled and cut into pieces
1/2 medium head cauliflower, broken into pieces
1 apple, peeled and cut into pieces (next time I'll use 2 apples)
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 tsp dried (rubbed) sage (2 Tbsp fresh sage would be even better)
3 cups water
1 lemon, finely grated peel only
1-2 oranges, juice and finely grated peel
1 (6oz) container plain Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp agave nectar, or to taste

* Preheat a large pot over medium-high heat.  Spray with non-stick cooking spray and saute celery and onion (if using) 2-3 minutes. Add sweet potato, squash, cauliflower and apple pieces.  Stir in salt, pepper, sage and water.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer until all vegetables are tender, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool slightly.
* Transfer half of soup to blender and puree until silky smooth (this may take several minutes depending on your blender); use caution when blending hot liquids. Repeat with remaining soup.  Stir in finely grated lemon peel, finely grated peel and juice of 1 orange, Greek yogurt and agave.  Taste and add additional orange peel, orange juice or agave to suit your tastes.  After adding grated citrus peel you may wish to puree the soup once more for an extra-silky texture.

Food for Thought: "The problem, simply put, is that we cannot choose everything simultaneously. So we live in danger of becoming paralyzed by indecision, terrified that every choice might be the wrong choice." -Elizabeth Gilbert 

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