You know those times in a relationship when you’re introduced to extended family for the first time? It can be nerve wracking and slightly intimidating and you come across as meek or reserved, or it can be nerve wracking and slightly intimidating but you manage a really calm facade and the night goes well. For me, my comfort zone is the kitchen because I feel confident and in control. I may not know the right thing to say from time to time, but I know how to season to taste and prep product. In the kitchen, I am in my element. So knowing I’m about to meet some family members, I say, how about I cook something? This has the potential to be a double-edged sword: best case I perform well and the food is a great beginning to a positive first impression, worst case the food tastes poorly executed and I get moody and it all blows up in my face. Thankfully, my girlfriend’s family has, to this point, been extremely warm and authentic and truly a pleasure to meet and the food I put forth did not suck. Good combination. I was awed and inspired to hear stories about picking olives and pressing them for their oil, fresh beans being grown for one’s family, and drinking with family and friends and dancing and laughing the night away in a faraway land.
I’ve made this soup a couple of times, once as a gift on the doorstep for my girlfriend when she makes the long drive back from the suburbs to get home after work. The second time I made it for a few of her family members visiting from Pittsburgh and Icaria, a Greek island. First time around, I honestly didn’t eat any other than tasting for seasoning, just packed it up and dropped it off. The second time around I made a few subtle changes in the recipe that made this recipe a keeper. Big recommendation, make your own vegetable stock for soup. Simply keep usable scraps and extract the full flavor, it makes good soups turn great because the flavor base is fully developed. Secondly, use fresh ginger to add something dried spices never can. Finally, as always, season throughout to enhance the flavor, then finish seasoning at the end to taste. Salt brings out the best in flavors, pepper adds another flavor.
Sweet Potato & Ginger Bisque:
- 1 onion, cubed
- 2 small carrots, chopped
- 2 small celery stalks, chopped
- 1 tbsp garlic, sliced
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger, sliced
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
- 4 cups coconut milk
- 1-2 cups vegetable broth
- salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil
Preheat oven to 375. Toss sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast until browned and cooked through, flipping once halfway. Heat oil and saute onion, carrots, and celery until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, and ginger and cook about 1 minute. Add roasted sweet potatoes, coconut milk, and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add more broth to adjust consistency. Puree until very smooth, pass through a strainer if desired. Season to taste.