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sweet potato soup with coriander + blood orange

sweet potato soup with coriander + blood orange // the first messsweet potato soup with coriander + blood orange // the first messsweet potato soup with coriander + blood orange // the first mess
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 // the first messsweet potato soup with coriander + blood orange // the first messsqueezed // the first messsweet potato soup with coriander + blood orange // the first messsweet potato soup with coriander + blood orange // the first mess

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.

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Kathryn23/01/2014 - 7:43 am

Oh yes, I remember those hangry pizzas so well especially during the month or so that we didn’t have any kind of kitchen and had a weird messed up crazy diet. It was so good to get back on an even keel. And I’m all for simplicity and paring down. There’s nothing like a gigantic list of ingredients to put me off a recipe; it just seems like you’re trying to hide something. This soup = perfect.

Supal {chevrons and éclairs}23/01/2014 - 9:10 am

The addition of the blood orange juice right after browning the onions a bit is a brilliant idea! Will have to try this for future soup and perhaps other fruits too :) x

Abby @ The Frosted Vegan23/01/2014 - 9:39 am

I’m with you sister! Sometimes it’s easy to make things/recipes too complicated and miss out on the simple flavors. I have everything I need for this, so be gone polar vortex! Also, can these vortexes pleaseee be over??

Tessa | Balancing Active23/01/2014 - 9:40 am

I was wondering what to do with the two sweet potatoes sitting in my fridge that are about to go bad. Then I realized I also have all the other ingredients for this soup in my house (minus the blood orange, but I’ll take your word on the substitutions)–problem solved! Thanks for the simple recipe. Your photos are stunning–especially that last one.

Amanda23/01/2014 - 9:42 am

This is a favourite in our house; I love how much body this soup has considering it is made up of so few ingredients. Last weekend I made a double batch to freeze so we’ve got sweet potato soup for days! I love the idea of adding orange juice!

Sini | my blue&white kitchen23/01/2014 - 10:05 am

Wow! Absolutely gorgeous. It’s like having sunshine in your bowl. Can’t wait to make this.

Belinda@themoonblushbaker23/01/2014 - 10:20 am

I praise you that you only get hangry pizza during kitchen renovations; I get them even when I am re doing any part pf the house. I am a fan of grape seed oil too; I have never relaly been in to olive oil as the flavor is way too strong for me.

it is wonderful you are being inspired by short list recipes; they are naked recipes were the best produce makes the best meals and you can focus on your cooking skills. Love this soup; and the colour is so bright and cheerful for the blue cloudy days.

Emma Galloway23/01/2014 - 10:27 am

I too have moved away from grapeseed (and rice bran oil) in the last year or so, after reading about the process it takes to make the stuff (using chemicals!) Ekk. I now only ever use olive oil, ghee and coconut oil.
ps-love that you call her GP you rockstar. Lovely soup!

shanna mallon23/01/2014 - 10:37 am

goooooorgeous. and ps Winnie’s book! I love it, too.

Amy @ Parsley In My Teeth23/01/2014 - 10:55 am

I thought the blood orange juice would turn this a shade of pink, but the yellow color is gorgeous! Definitely the kind of hearty soup we need in the Frozen North right now!

Michelle23/01/2014 - 12:45 pm

This looks amazing, I really wish I liked sweet potatoes!! The pictures make me want to be brave and try it again in a new way.

Golubka23/01/2014 - 1:18 pm

It’s my favorite soup in that book. Can’t wait to try it with blood orange juice next time.

Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward23/01/2014 - 1:23 pm

This soup looks so balanced, fresh and flavorful! And the color – wow. Any vegetarian or meat eater would enjoy it. Thank you for sharing! Best, Shanna

Eileen23/01/2014 - 2:06 pm

That soup is the most beautiful color. I love the idea of punching up sweet potato with citrus!

Kankana23/01/2014 - 2:31 pm

I am in love with the color of the soup, so warm, like sunshine in a bowl. Perfect for the season.

Lindsey23/01/2014 - 3:02 pm

YES! I am so with you on the simple ingredient thing! I’ve been making a veggie stew with little more than 6 ingredients, it leaves me super full and warm, totally essential during these months. I am so intrigued by the blood orange juice, I am totally adding it next time I make sweet potato soup! GP for the win!

Chelsea//TheNakedFig23/01/2014 - 3:30 pm

This looks so delicious! Nothing beats a creamy soup on a cold day. And I love the addition of blood orange. Can’t wait to try!

Amy23/01/2014 - 3:41 pm

I love when something that looks so beautiful is made with all the stuff hanging out in the bottom of my fridge at this very moment. Perhaps a swirl of cilantro oil for party purposes?

Laura Wright23/01/2014 - 3:45 pm

That sounds pretty bang-on, Amy! :)

Dawn23/01/2014 - 4:15 pm

Try macadamia nut oil, it has a pleasing buttery taste. I use it for shallow frying and in baked goods. Or sesame oil.

Dawn23/01/2014 - 4:16 pm

I don’t use the sesame oil in baking, just for frying.

Medha23/01/2014 - 4:36 pm

Your gorgeous pictures brighten up my day in this chilly weather. I moved away from olive oil little bit and start using ghee and coconut oil in cooking, I love the taste and smell of these oils.

Kate23/01/2014 - 5:36 pm

This soup looks beautiful and the flavors sound like exactly what I need to unclench my shoulders on these subzero days we’ve been having in New York City. Thanks for the idea!

Nicola | Homegrown Kitchen23/01/2014 - 10:01 pm

Regarding using olive oil in cooking: I am of the belief to use food how we have for centuries. Olive oil has in fact been used for ‘gentle’ sauteing in Mediterranean style food for as long as the olive groves have existed. However, and here is a tip I learned while studying natural nutrition, always add chopped onion and/or garlic when cooking with olive oil over a low/ medium heat. The sulfur in onions and garlic is a powerful antioxidant that protects the oil for oxidising. If you think about it we generally always add chopped onion and/or garlic when we make soup or sauce or a casserole, right?
Happy cooking with olive oil Laura, love your recipes :)

kw24/01/2014 - 4:19 pm

I made this today. It was really good. It hit the spot during this cold snap we are having. Instead of the sweet potatoes I fried Yukon potatoes in with oil, rosemary and sage that I added at the end.

Really good stuff. Thanks for the recipe

Sandy24/01/2014 - 5:43 pm

You take such beautiful pictures. How does someone take red onion peels and make them look like flowers? Well done! Also I love sweet potato so I need to make this soup.

[…] 2. Sweet Potato Soup with Coriander + Blood Orange  from The First Mess […]

Helen @ Scrummy Lane28/01/2014 - 11:33 am

This is such an interesting and tasty-sounding twist on a simple soup. Still seems like it would be easy to make though. Delicious!

Shelly @ Vegetarian 'Ventures02/02/2014 - 9:43 pm

I always struggle with what oil to use as well – there are so many contradictions out there! Lately, I’ve been using ghee (per my yoga / hippie reading: http://www.yogajournal.com/health/56) as my choice but who knows if it’s just another trend oil or could be the answer.

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Ileana19/02/2014 - 6:50 pm

Such spectacular photos! I’ll have to keep your soup tips in mind next time I’m cooking up a batch.

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