Sweet Potato and Orange Soup with Smoky Pecans
- Sweet Potato Soup Base:
- 2 (10-12 oz.) sweet potatoes
- 2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
- 1 small leek, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
- 2 sprigs thyme
- kosher or sea salt
- pinch of curry powder
- 2 c. vegetable or chicken stock, warmed
- 1 c. Sweet Potato Soup Base
- 1/4 c. freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1/4 c. water or vegetable stock, plus more if needed
- kosher or sea salt
- 2 T. pecan halves
- 1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. smoked Spanish paprika or ground chipotle chile
- 2 T. creme fraiche, sour cream, or yogurt, whisked until smooth
- finely grated zest of 1 orange
For Soup Base: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Use a fork or sharp knife to prick the sweet potatoes in several places. Place on a piece of foil and bake until the sweet potatoes are tender and can be easily squeezed, 60 to 75 minutes (alternatively, to speed up the process, microwave the pricked potatoes on HIGH for 1 minute, then carefully transfer to the oven on a piece of foil. Bake until the potatoes are tender, 30 to 45 minutes.
Pour the oil into a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. When it starts to shimmer, add the carrots, celery, leek, thyme, and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine well, then decrease the heat to low, cover the pot, and allow the vegetables to sweat in their own juices until very soft, 10 to 15 minutes.
Scrape into the saucepan with the soft sweet potato flesh, add the curry powder, and stir to combine, mashing the sweet potato flesh with a spoon. The mixture will be chunky. Stir in the stock and combine well. Bring the mixture to a boil, then decrease the heat so the mixture gently simmers, and cook, covered but with the lid slightly ajar, for about 15 minutes to let the flavors meld. Allow the mixture to cool slightly, then remove and discard the thyme.
Use an immersion blender to puree the soup base, which will be very thick. Taste and add salt if needed.
Let the soup base cool to room temperature. Divide it into 4 portions and use immediately, refrigerate for up to 2 weeks, or freeze in small containers or heavy-duty freezer-safe resealable bags, pressing out as much air from the bag as possible before sealing. It will keep frozen for several months.
For Soup: Pour the soup base into a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the orange juice and water, adding more water if you want a thinner consistency. Cook until the soup is bubbling hot, 3 to 4 minutes. Taste, and add salt if needed. Decrease the heat to low, cover, and keep it hot.
Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pecans and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are fragrant and start to darken, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour in the oil, stir in the paprika, and cook for another 30 seconds to dissolve the spice. Use a heatproof spatula to scrape the spiced oil and pecans into a small bowl.
Pour the soup into a serving bowl, dollop the creme fraiche in the middle, and top with the pecans and spiced oil. Sprinkle the orange zest on top, and eat.
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