Sunday, September 27, 2009

Successful Soup - Sister's Soft, Moist Sunday X

My sister has always been a wee bit accident-prone. Sometimes I think nursing was a natural career choice for her. She spent so much time in the emergency room as a child that she had the details of the job figured out before she ever got to nursing school.

Sharp objects and my sister have never been a good combination. In grade school she almost amputated the tip of her middle finger while using the paper-cutter. This was on the last day of school before Christmas. She spent her holiday gleefully flashing her bandaged finger at people. I was disappointed that I missed my class Christmas party. I'm sure the staff thought I was heartless, but even at that early age my sister's injuries were common occurrences in our lives.

Given her tendency to attract disaster, the kitchen has never been the safest place for my sister. Beyond the obvious hazards, like hot stoves and sharp knives, there are hidden dangers like explosive turkeys, but we don't talk about that. Much.

MS has made working in the kitchen even more challenging for my sister. It affects her vision, balance and dexterity. These symptoms, combined with her accident-prone nature, make her the last person you want handling a sharp knife. I try to keep this in mind when writing this feature, and I try to adapt recipes to minimize chopping and peeling. This week I had a brainstorm that allowed me to eliminate both.

It started with last week's sweet potato ideas. Knowing that my sister will eat sweet potatoes made me want experiment further with them. Soup came immediately to mind, but every soup recipe I found called for chopping and peeling the sweet potatoes, onions etc. This sounded like a recipe for disaster to me.

Then I realized I could used baked sweet potatoes for the soup. Once I had that figured out, the next logical step was to bake the onion as well. I've baked garlic before, so I thought it should work for the onion. They are part of the same family after all.

Here's where I ran into a snag. While sweet potatoes may be common in the southern states where my sister lives, they aren't so easy to get here. There were plenty available at the grocery store, but they were kind of spotty and yucky. I could only find one that was worth purchasing, and even it wasn't a perfect specimen. I supplemented my sweet potato purchase with a couple of yams. (Or at least they were labeled sweet potato and yam. Apparently there's a lot of confusion about which is which, and I certainly don't know the difference.)

Once home I wrapped the sweet potato and the yams in foil and put them in a 400 degree oven. The onion got a similar treatment, but I sliced a bit off the top first and drizzled on
olive oil and water. I didn't want it to dry out. Because of the extra liquid I wrapped the onion in a double layer of foil before putting it in the oven with the other veggies. Everything was soft after about 45 minutes.

Once everything was cool enough to handle I unwrapped my veggies and prepared them for the soup pot.

Ignore the large knife in this photo. The onion was so soft that a butter knife would have been sufficient. Even the peel came off easily.

I was able to scoop the flesh from the sweet potato with a spoon.

Same with the yam.

The onion, yam and sweet potato went in the pot with some spices...

... and my lovely homemade veggie broth.

I let things simmer and soften further, then hit them with my immersion blender.

I added coconut milk and heated the soup. I served it with a pinch of cinnamon on top. The cinnamon in hubby's bowl formed a wee heart all on it's own. How appropriate.

This Week's Soft, Moist Selection

Sweet Potato and Yam Soup

1 baked sweet potato
1 baked yam
1 baked onion
2 tsp butter (or oil)
2 1/2 cups broth
1 heaped tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 can coconut milk

- Melt butter in pot.
- Remove flesh from yam, sweet potato and onion. Add to melted butter.
- Add curry powder, cumin, and ginger.
- Cook for 2 - 3 minutes until veggies soften further and you can smell the spices
- Add broth and cook for 10 - 15 minutes. The yam and sweet potato will have almost melted into the liquid.
- Remove from heat and puree carefully with an immersion blender.
- Add coconut milk and maple syrup. Return to heat and warm.
- Serve topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

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