Thursday, December 19, 2013

OhFeelYa's Easy...Dinners--Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup AND Easy Bread

Part two of the previous Economical Kitchen post: I'm not going to lie. I had a pile of veggies sitting in the crisper about to liquefy. I mean, really, I couldn't even take a picture of the sweet potato, it was so terrible looking. Now, I'm not advocating that you cook with rotten food. All cooks know that the fresher and better quality of your raw foods, the better your end product will be. However, I work for a living, I have several hobbies, a kiddo to get through fifth-grade math, and five of the silliest animals on God's earth to care for, so sometimes I don't get things cooked in their prime. Now, if something is smelling at all off, please discard it. What I'm talking about are items like my sweet potato, which was still firm and sweet-smelling. It just had a few spots that needed to be trimmed away due to discoloration. 

I had these neat multi-colored carrots, so I peeled and sliced them. I also chopped up half a yellow onion and two cloves of garlic. I let the onion and garlic sweat in 2T canola oil for about 8 minutes, and then added in half the carrots and sweet potato, stirring frequently. About 15 minutes in, I added about 3 cups of chicken broth (enough to cover the veggies), salt, pepper, about 1 t. tumeric, 1/2 t. smoked paprika, and a pinch of ground dried coriander (the seed from the plant cilantro comes from--Europeans call cilantro coriander instead). When the veggies were all soft, I ran my immersion blender through the mix. I let this simmer very gently while my other veggies roasted. A nice, long simmer is the key to a flavorful soup.

In the meanwhile, I put the other half of my potatoes and carrots in the oven to roast after tossing them with oil, salt, and pepper. I wanted them to get a bit browned and stay whole to add another layer of flavor and texture to my soup. I have to stop here and say that the Reynold's non-stick foil is pretty much God's gift to roasting veggies. Nothing sticks. No clean up. I love it.
When my veggies were tender, I added them into the pot with about 2 T of cream. I tasted it and adjusted seasonings, and let it simmer a bit longer to incorporate the roasted flavor. I really loved how this soup turned out! Remember, you can make soup a vehicle for almost anything in your veggie drawer.
Teacup of soup on top of the bread recipe I decided to try from Flinn's book.  
I was reading Kathleen Flinn's Kitchen Counter Cooking School, and there's a great chapter on no-knead bread that I was dying to try. The recipe is quite simple. Take 3 cups lukewarm water (100 degrees), 1 1/2 T. yeast, and 1 T. salt and mix them in a bowl. Dump in 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and any herbs you may want to add for flavor (I added sage, but you could add anything you like) and mix into a sticky ball.  
Let it sit, partially covered for two hours. When time is up, flour your hands and separate it into four balls (I halved the recipe and made two balls). Pull bits from the top over and around the bottom and lay it on a cornmeal-covered cutting board for another hour and a half. 
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. When you turn it on, put your baking stone or skillet in the oven along with a metal container. When the oven has been on for 20 minutes, put your bread on your hot stone or skillet and water in the container. 
I let mine bake for 20 minutes, and it was great! Rich carrot soup and fresh bread=winning combination. It's not very pretty, I'll give you that, but it was tasty. I'll keep working on it until I get pretty AND tasty. Next on my list is to make a sourdough starter. That's my current goal in life. I want to be a glorious bread baker, though this is my first bread success that is not entirely to the credit of my bread machine.

Soup recipe follows...

Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup
  • 5 carrots 
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2T oil
  • 3ish cups chicken or veggie broth
  • 1 t. tumeric
  • 1/2 t. smoked paprika
  • pinch dried coriander
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 T. cream (omit for a lower-cal version)


 Peel and slice the carrots. Chop up half a yellow onion and two cloves of garlic. Let the onion and garlic sweat in 2T  oil for about 8 minutes, and then added in half the carrots and sweet potato, stirring frequently. About 15 minutes in, add about 3 cups of chicken broth (enough to cover the veggies), salt, pepper, about 1 t. tumeric, 1/2 t. smoked paprika, and a pinch of ground dried coriander. When the veggies are soft,  run an immersion blender through the mix or put it in the blender (drape a towel over the top). Let this simmer very gently for at least twenty minutes.

Toss the other half of the chopped carrot and sweet potato in oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Put them in a 350 degree oven until they're soft (about 12 minutes--pierce with a fork to make sure they're soft).

Add the roasted veggies to your pureed soup base. Add 2 T. cream. Adjust seasoning to taste.