Friday, December 7, 2007

7.12.07: Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash

I visited Lidl in the Old Kent Road, to stock up on paprika-flavoured crisps and confectionary that incorporates hazelnuts, and I noticed that they also sell quite a wide selection of veg. So, I bought a couple of kilos each of sweet potatoes (@ £1.45/kg) and butternut squash (99p/kg), which translated as three big potatoes and four small squashes.

I also bought carrots. onions, celery and garlic at Lidl and, on the way back to base, picked up a handful of plump green chillies and a packet of creamed coconut from Oli's and a stick of very fresh ginger (30p) from the Sino-Viet grocery store in Walworth Road. I searched for sage, but had to settle for a bunch of thyme (50p) from a stall on East Street.

Back at the Pullens Centre, I peeled probably a dozen cloves of garlic and roughly chopped two of the largish, mild onions, which I spread onto a roasting tray with a little oil and cooked in a hot oven until they turned brown and started to caramelise. I thought to do it that way rather than cook the chopped veg in the bottom of the soup pot, but I'm not sure it made any discernible difference to the eventual flavour, so I probably won't bother again.

I minced the ginger and half a dozen chillies, peeled and chopped the carrots and washed and sliced half a head of celery. Then, with my sturdiest peeler, I peeled and diced the squashes and sweet potatoes into roughly 3/4 inch cubes.

Over a moderate flame, I first tipped the partially roasted onion and garlic mixture off its tray into the soup pot, adding the chillies and ginger and cooking for a few minutes before adding the carrots and celery. While continuing to peel/chop of the other veg, I cooked this base with the lid on the pot for a good fifteen minutes before adding the diced orange roots and squashes, covering with four litres of Marigold bouillon and whacking the heat up to bring the pot to a boil.

I simmered the soup for half an hour until the sweet potatoes were soft, added a 200g block of coconut cream dissolved in a litre of boiling water, and left the pot to stand for ten minutes before going to it. I tried to use Gaynor, but Gaynor was no-go. So, I had to decant half the soup into a smaller pot and use a hand mixer to blend it. Which worked fine, with one commentator in the log bok remarking that the soup's texture was 'smooth as silk'.

Ken - in his first visit to the Soup Kitchen - wrote that 'the sweet taste of these veg. together is exactly what my acupuncturist told me to eat'. To which I say, 'hurry back, Ken!'

Later, I got Jan to see to Gaynor and she opined that - apart from the blown fuse caused by a loose lead - the basic problem was that she had been mis-named. Apparently, one cannot call a stick mixer 'Gaynor', no matter how glorious the soups she swirls. It's like there's a law against it. Especially when the blender's name is quite obviously Brenda. Like the Queen in Private Eye. So, from now on, it's Brenda the blender, innit.

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