Friday, 29 November 2013

Sweet Potato, Roast Garlic and Coconut Soup

I was tempted to call the title of this post Sweet Potato, Roast Garlic, Lime, Cumin and Coconut Soup, but I thought I would stick to the Rule of Three. Despite a rather long and overcomplicated name, the ingredients blend together to a much more mellow soup than you would expect. That is not to say it is dull, I like to think the combination makes a beautiful balance, like in a good Thai curry.

2 heads of garlic
Olive oil
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp butter
4 spring onions
1 long red chilli
800g (ish) sweet potato
1 can coconut milk
1litre chicken or vegetable stock, or water
Fish sauce (to taste)
1 lime

Preheat the oven to 180C. Tear 2 squares of foil. Place a head of garlic on one of the foil squares, drizzle over a little oil. Crimp the edges of the foil together tightly, so the garlic is encased in a baggy foil packet. Repeat with the other head of garlic. Roast for 20-25 minutes, until the garlic is very soft- leave it for longer if it is still hard.

While the garlic is roasting, toast the cumin seeds in a dry frying pan until they start to smell fragrant, then tip into a pestle and mortar and grind as finely as you can.

Chop the spring onions and the chilli. You can do this quite roughly, as they will all get blended up in the end. I keep the chilli seeds in this for the extra bite, but you can remove them if you prefer a milder soup.

Melt the butter in a pan big enough to accommodate everything. Add the chilli and spring onion, and let them cook over a gentle heat. Whilst they are cooking, peel and chop the sweet potato into even sized pieces. Add to the chilli and spring onion, and cook for a few minutes more. Stir in the cumin, then add the stock or water and coconut milk. Simmer until the sweet potato is tender. How long it will take depends on the size you cut your potatoes.
Remove the garlic from the oven, unwrap and allow to cool enough so you can handle it. Squeeze the garlic pulp out of its skins into the pan. Blend the soup with a stick blender until completely smooth. Add a dash of fish sauce and half the juice of the lime, stir and taste. Add more lime or fish sauce to your taste, and serve.

The soup is surprisingly filling, I found a bowl with some bread made a very tasty and warming supper.