I can’t explain it, but something about my life feels different lately. It’s not because of my New Year’s goals (because we all know how that went down) — no, it’s something you can’t really pinpoint. It’s like that feeling you get when you finally break in your new boots. Or when the wine pairs perfectly with dinner. Or when you try browned and buttered cashews on top of sweet potato soup for the very first time and you realize, yes — this is exactly what I needed.
Whatever it is, I’m going with it. And I’m taking the buttered cashews with me.
For someone who has a wild, uncontrollable obsession with cookbooks, receiving a healthy stack of additions to my already extensive collection this past Christmas caused a rather schizophrenic reaction in me: I was elated, naturally, but also completely overwhelmed. Where. Do. I. Start. Do I start with Joy’s kitchen sink carrot cake? Do I kick things off with Deb’s wild mushroom tart? Do I go crazy and make my own cheese and preserves a la Home Made?
Finally, I didn’t decide on a recipe but rather, one chose me, and it was this sweet potato soup. Let me tell you, it was the perfect place to start.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that a sweet potato soup is the best thing you will ever make in your kitchen — even one topped with creme fraiche and buttered cashews — but I will suggest that this may be the best soup I have ever made. It’s every bit warm as it is unique, every bit crunchy as it is smooth, every bit savory as it is sweet, every bit comfort as it is surprise. It’s the best celebration of winter vegetables and pantry goods I’ve tasted in a long time, maybe ever. It’s the kind of soup you make because you really want soup but you don’t want to do it up too fancy — and the result is something so basic, yet so elegant and satisfying.
And in case I haven’t completely bored you away with all this talk about how much I love a soup, may I remind you of the browned, buttered cashews on top? Nothing short of life-changing — in the best possible way.
Sweet Potato Soup with Buttered Cashews
Recipe adapted from Home Made
Yields: 6-8 servings
1 white or yellow onion, diced
2 leeks, washed and white parts cut into rounds (discard green tips)
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup white wine
4 cups vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
pinch of paprika (to taste)
1 can (16 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 tablespoons salted whole cashews
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
sour cream or creme fraiche, for serving
Heat a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onion, leeks, sweet potatoes, garlic and butter; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are fork-tender and have started to brown, about 10-12 minutes.
Add white wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add broth, bay leaf and paprika and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low and simmer 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Using a ladle, remove half the vegetables from the pan and reserve. Using an immersion hand blender, blend the remaining vegetables and broth in the pot into a puree. Return vegetables to pot and add chickpeas and the leaves from a few sprigs of oregano; stir to combine. Ladle soup into serving bowls.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, add cashews and 1 tablespoon butter. Fry cashews in butter until warm and just lightly browned on the edges, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and sprinkle cashews over soup in bowls. Top each bowl with a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche; garnish with more fresh oregano, if desired. Serve immediately.