Tuesday 29 November 2011

Sweet Potato and Yellow Pepper Soup (with Paul Hollywood's Crusty Bread)

Our chosen soup for today’s menu is, as usual, a moveable feast.  By that I mean that the end result is entirely in your culinary hands.

With many of our soups, the basic ingredients are very similar and today’s isn’t an exception to the bendable rules.  You will need a good sized saucepan to make the full amount, but as with the quantities of ingredients and  flavourings,  this can be adjusted according to your choices.  Likewise, if you want the soup to be vegetarian, vegan or down-right carnivorous, then the choice is entirely yours.

I find that butta gives the best flavour, but I always put some vegetable oil with it to prevent burning if the pan gets a wee bit overheated.  Put a generous chunk of butter into the pan (unless you are vegan), preferably with a thick bottom (the pan, not you) and add some vegetable oil.  Don’t turn the heat on yet, wait until you have done some preparation.

Now we can really get stuck in.  Take a large unyun (or two small ones), peel ‘em and chop ‘em then put on one side.  Do the same with three karruts and two or three sticks of selleree.  Then, the clever bit (unless you are vegetarian or vegan) chop up two rashers of lean bakun.  You can now turn on the heat and when the butta has melted, put in all the chopped veg and bakun.  Give them a good stir making each little bit is well-coated.  Put lid on, turn down the heat and leave them to sweat it out for a few minutes while you do some more prep.

Peel and chop three sweet ‘tatas – that’s SWEET ‘tatas, not your Maris Piper  or Desiree.  Then get the cores and seeds out of two yella peppas – you can use orinj peppas if you want, but never green.   When you have done that, chop them up and leave with the sweet ‘tatas.  You will also need one of those long, thin sweet peppas – Romero by name, de-seed and chop that too.  Check that the sweating is going well and not burning then put lid back on for a tad longer. 


You can, if you wish, roast the peppas first and remove the skin, but I think it was Delia Smith who might have said that life is too short to skin a pepper (or was is mushrooms?)

For the next bit you have various choices and the decision is entirely yours.  You will need some stock.  You can either make your own, buy it from the supermarket or use stock cubes and boiling water.  I’m going to use stock cubes, but you can do what you like:  take a stock cube, either vegetable or chikin depending on your conviction, put it in a one-pint jug and pour on boiling water to about three-quarters full.  When it has dissolved, pour it on to the sweating, softened ingredients and then add the sweet ‘tatas and peppers.  Make some more stock, about the same amount and add that.  Leave it all to simmer until the vegetables are suitably softened.  Remove the pan from the heat and liquidise the contents.  You can either do this by using a liquidiser (food processor will work if you don’t have one) or a hand-held blender.  Then add one more ingredient – garam masala; anything between a dessertspoonful to a good tablespoonful, depending on your taste.  You don’t have to add any at all if you’d rather not.  You may have noticed there is no salt in this recipe.  That isn’t because it’s a health-conscious low sodium creation, it’s because there is enough in the bacon and stock cubes.  You can always add some at the end if it isn’t salty enough for you. 

If you didn’t remove the peppa-skin, you will need to push the soup through a sieve as there will be some tiresome little un-liquidised pieces which spoil the soup, unless you don’t mind a few unwelcome slivers – I do.

Return to the heat and you now have three more choices: add milk to make is thinner, mix cornflour with some milk and add to make it thicker (keep stirring if you choose this option) or leave it as it is. 

To enhance the enjoyment of this soup, you will need some fresh, crusty bread.  The expert is, of course, Master Baker Paul Hollywood and if you choose to make your own then click here to see his fantastic recipe – he’ll even show you how to make it. Just click here.

Sprinkle a little Garam Masala on when you serve it (because it looks nice and tastes good too).

All you need to do now is enjoy the soup (oh and wash up or load the dishwasher)

Ingredient recap

1 – 2 ounces butter
1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion (or two small ones)
3 medium carrots
2 sticks of celery
2 rashers lean, unsmoked back bacon (optional)
3 sweet potatoes
2 yellow (or orange) peppers
1 Red Romero pepper
1½ pints stock (vegetable or chicken)
Approx 1 tablespoon Garam Masala

Possibly milk, cornflour.

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