Curried Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Soup with Coconut Milk

This is the book that kicked off my food loving, healthy eating, conscious cooking, nutrition fascinated journey.

cook food book

I bought “Cook Food” by Lisa Jervis about five years ago in a small artsy-touristy shop in my hometown of Cedarburg, WI.  I still like looking through the stained and crinkled pages of this small paperback book at the sentences and phrases I underlined and highlighted way back when.  And although there has been much learning and growing since those days, I stay grounded in many of the methods and sentiments that Jervis offered me in this short, friendly guide to health and planet-conscious cooking and eating.

All the recipes in “Cook Food” are approximate and flexible.  Jervis encourages readers from the very first pages to “experiment, try new things, make the recipes your own.”  Well I certainly took that imperative and ran with it. I barely ever perfectly follow recipes (gasp?!) and only break out the measuring cups and spoons when I’m baking.  I tend to use cookbooks as tools of inspiration: I mine them for new flavor combinations or seek advice on how to use an ingredient I’ve never tried.  But… I have to say this non-recipe cooking style doesn’t serve me very well when I want to share something I’ve made here on Funky Beets.  Case in point: I recently made this epically tasty soup, but hadn’t really measured anything in the process. Well, luckily for me (and you!) I do have a pretty slick memory, so I think this should still work out (fingers crossed).

cauli-curry soup

I’m sure Lisa Jervis would agree here, you should take liberties with this soup, add more of the ingredients you like, leave out the ones you don’t. Get a little artsy with it, and TASTE along the way.  Tasting your cooking as it unfolds is the best way to ensure non-recipe cooking turns out fabulously; I read somewhere American cooks don’t do enough of it, so let’s prove whoever said that wrong.  Let’s dip our spoons liberally in bubbling pots on their way to becoming dinner.  Just don’t forget to blow on your spoonfuls before you sample; this soup won’t taste as good with a burnt tongue.

Curried Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Soup with Coconut Milk

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp coconut oil or ghee

½ medium sweet onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 heaping Tbsp curry powder (or more!)

1 tsp crushed red pepper (for medium-high spice level)

1 Tbsp powdered ginger

1 head cauliflower, cored and cut into chunks

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed

1 (8.5 oz) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes

1 (8.5 oz) can chickpeas

½ (8.5 oz) can coconut milk

water

salt to taste

toppings (optional):

plain yogurt

cilantro

toasted sunflower seeds

Method:

1. In a Dutch oven or other large pot, melt the oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and sauté for a few minutes.  Add the garlic and spices, stirring until fragrant.

2.  Next, add all the cauliflower and sweet potato chunks, stirring around with the alliums and spices until coated.  If you have extra time, you can let the vegetables get a little browned (flavor!) before moving on to the next step.

3. To the pot, add the canned tomatoes (with juice), chickpeas and coconut milk.  Now add enough water to just barely cover the cauliflower and sweet potatoes.  Stir it all together until the broth is mostly uniform in color.

4.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and put the lid on your pot.  Stir occasionally.  When the sweet potatoes are soft, the soup could be finished.  If you want to let the flavors meld a bit more, you can leave the soup on low heat for a while longer.

5. Taste the broth for salt and add as much as you like.

6. Depending on your texture preferences, you can go a number of routes here: leave it completely “rustic” and stew-like (would be great over rice), OR blend it partially with an immersion blender so there is some smoothness and some larger chunks (that’s what I did) OR blend it completely for a silky, luxurious pureed soup.

7. Finish by layering on your desired toppings.  Enjoy!

cauli-curry soup 2

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Curried Sweet Potato Dip

Noticing my last post was a sweet potato pie recipe, you might be inclined whisper redundant under your breath and run away. Well, not only would that be a little weird of you, but you would also miss out on this great dip you could share with your new found (or age-old) friends.  Friendship and sweet potatoes: two vital components of a well-lived life.

Since starting the dietetics program at Mount Mary last fall, I’ve been steeped in fascinating nutrition knowledge and surrounded by a strong, smart, diverse group of women. I’ve had the privilege to get to know some of these ladies as friends and on Saturday, we celebrated life, food, and friendship.  We brought dishes to share and sipped (gulped?) wine, started a book club, and mulled over life’s big and little questions.  If you would have told me a year ago I’d be writing those words now, about new friends and all, I might not have believed you.  I’ve never been the most gifted friend-maker, and I know a lot of us say that, but anyway, it’s been a blessing, and that is all.

I brought this smooth, spicy, sweet potato dip accompanied by sliced radishes and blue corn tortilla chips.  Whole grain crackers or flatbread would also work quite nicely.  If you leave out the curry powder and swap in some cinnamon, I’d imagine graham crackers would be an excellent dipping vehicle as well.

sweet potato dip 008

So, I changed it some: chickpeas for white beans, more olive oil, no feta, add garlic and cayenne pepper, but I owe the blog Mary Not Martha for the soul of this dip. Topping it with pepitas was a game changer. Thanks for the inspiration ladies!

You can use a blender, immersion blender or food processor to bring this dip together.  If you don’t have any of these, you can whip up a slightly more rustic version by just mashing with a potato masher.

Ingredients:

3 large sweet potatoes

½ cup olive oil, plus as added for thinning dip

1 cup cooked chickpeas

1 Tbsp fresh curry powder (I used Penzey’s Hot Curry Powder)

½ Tbsp garlic, minced or pasted

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

coarse salt and pepitas (green pumpkin seeds) for sprinkling

sweet potato dip 011

Method:

Preheat oven to 450°.  While it warms up, wash sweet potatoes and wrap them in aluminum foil, then place directly on the middle rack and roast for an hour, or until very tender, like borderline mushy.

Let sweet potatoes cool, then remove from foil and working over a large bowl, or food processor, peel away skins, letting the orange flesh slide lusciously into the bowl below.  Mash the flesh with a fork to get out any significant lumps.

Now, add the olive oil, chickpeas, curry powder, garlic, and cayenne, blend with your appliance of choice.  If dip is too thick, add more olive oil.  You’re looking for a consistency around that of a hearty hummus.  Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.

Spoon dip into your serving bowl of choice.  Sprinkle with coarse salt, pepitas (green pumpkin seeds), and more cayenne pepper just before digging in.

Leftovers will last a solid week in the ol’ fridge.

sweet potato dip 016