Let me start by telling you that in extreme weather and more relaxed periods of time, I always turn to really pared down food. Meals and bowls that have a borderline ascetic kind of vibe. Steamed vegetables with olive oil, roasted squash with a squeeze of lime and pepper, avocado eaten out of its peel with a bit of salt etc. Sharpening of temperatures and some much-appreciated slack times always seem like good opportunities to re-focus on my body and what it’s trying to communicate. Essentially, I know in my heart of hearts that my personal food program needs a bit of cleaning up. Most of the major renovation stuff is over and done with at the house (there’s a kitchen floor now!), I’m in a very relaxed pocket of time with work, and yep. All those desperation/hangry pizzas ate in paint-splattered clothing on the living room floor have taken their toll.
So a bit of a meditation on paring it all down, food and otherwise, is an ongoing thing right now. I’ve been really inspired by 5-7ish ingredient preparations and just trying to find the best way to coax flavour out of various foodstuffs. I’ve been making notes with all of the ideas and successes and I can’t wait to share more of this kind of thing with you here. I find it’s really easy to make food/meal time/life in general rather complex. So finding a wellspring of inspiration in the pursuit of simpler (but still very full) living has been really welcome. So yeah. More of that kinda stuff ’round here for sure. Hope you’re all game.
So the soup! I find soup/stew is a nice go-to when you’re cleaning things up, so to speak. It’s nice to calmly hover around the pot, it’s an economical meal strategy, and soup is also really easy to make healthy and totally delicious. With this one, it’s hard to believe that so few ingredients could be luxurious and satisfying in that deep-warming kinda way, but seriously. So silky and rich. I slowly cook the onions, garlic and aromatics in a hefty slick of oil to bring out the sweetness and to remove any speck of raw spice. I always employ this strategy with soup–kind of stewing the onions + flavour-y bits in oil before I add the larger components. When you see that slick of oil mingled with herbs, spice etc. on the top of the pot, you know you’re doing it right.
And a note on that slick of oil: I was a grapeseed kinda gal through and through until I read Winnie Abramson‘s book One Simple Change, which is a completely excellent, no-nonsense companion to living a brighter + healthier life. I reserved my olive oils for salads and general drizzlin’ because everyone was saying that it wasn’t fit for heated contact. So grapeseed oil became my thing because of its neutral taste and ability to handle high heat, but in her segment on fats and oils, Winnie mentions its tendency to originate from genetically modified crops, so I’m slowly moving away from it/seeking out a more trusted source (holler if you got one). In the meantime, I’m using standard, organic olive oil (not extra virgin), which can be had for a reasonable price at almost any establishment that sells food. Winnie notes that bringing up the temperature slowly is crucial, so I’m taking her advice and loving it big time. It’s been nice to bring olive oil back into the circle a bit more. Anyway, hope all of youse in the midst of polar vortex round II (electric bugaloo!) are snuggled up this week. Make soup! :)
sweet potato soup with coriander + blood orange
Barely adapted from GP’s It’s All Good (Yes, I get to call her GP).
serves: makes 2 litres
notes: Juice from a regular orange or a splash or sherry vinegar would be just as nice as the blood orange. Also, I garnish this with some little quickie sweet potato chips: just sauté some thin slices in olive oil over medium heat, remove when lightly browned, and then dust them with a bit of salt or spice (I used Old Bay seasoning).
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, small dice
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chili flakes
juice of a blood orange
2 sweet potatoes, peeled + diced
5 cups vegetable stock
salt + pepper
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, coriander, and chili flakes to the pot. Lower the heat until the sizzling sounds a bit lighter. Stir and sauté this mixture until the onions are stew-y and soft, but not browned, about 8-10 minutes. Add more oil if necessary.
Add the blood orange juice to the pot and stir. Add the sweet potatoes and stir again. Season everything with lots of salt and pepper. Add the stock to the pot and increase the heat. Once everything’s boiling, bring it down to a simmer. Cook the soup until the sweet potatoes are really tender, about 12-15 minutes. Purée the soup in batches in a blender or food processor until completely smooth. Adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve the soup hot with little sweet potato chips and a sprinkle of sesame seeds if you like.