African Sweet Potato Soup

African Sweet Potato Soup 

This soup is another one from the winter vegetables section of The Soup Book, the second recipe by Angela Nilsen that I have used (see blog of 2nd January 2011) and the second soup I have cooked using sweet potatoes (see blog of 27th February 2010). There are just three recipes that call for sweet potatoes: the two I have already mentioned and one called "penny" soup, so called because the some of the vegetables used are sliced in rounds and stacked in a mound in the middle of the soup bowl when serving.

Back to the African sweet potato soup. The ingredients include onion, garlic, root ginger, dried crushed chillies, sweet potatoes, red pepper, a can of tomatoes, cumin and coriander seeds (dry roasted and crushed), vegetable stock (I had to use commercial bouillon today), peanut butter and Tabasco sauce. Yes, I was surprised too when I saw peanut butter on the list (smooth or crunchy), but it "lends a rich, satisfying earthiness", according to Nilsen. I had twice the required weight of sweet potato, so decided to make double the quantity. The only ingredients I didn't have already were the red pepper and ginger, and I was down to the last quarter teaspoon of dried crushed chillies, so off with me down to "Young Stephen's" green grocery.

"Stephen" has appeared in this blog six times already! Today I interrupted him eating his lunch outside the shop. A power failure was affecting the shops and houses on his block. Within seconds I had worked my magic and the power came back, accompanied by the wail of a nearby house alarm. I noticed that he was selling fish today - cod, hake, sea bass, prawns (big ones) and salmon darnes. I didn't know I could be so spoilt for choice of fish sellers in this part of Dublin.

Returning to the soup, I cooked it according to the instructions and had no great expectations of it, despite the glorious colours of the sweet potatoes, the red peppers and the tomatoes.  I was a little anxious about the roasted seeds - I thought I'd burned them, but the younger offspring commented on the delicious smell that met him at the door on his return from school. Then came the hard work of liquidising the cooked vegetables. Liquidising is not one of my favourite tasks. I don't like having to bend down to the cupboard where we keep the blender-cum-liquidiser, I don't like hoicking the machine up on to the work surface and transferring sloppy mixtures from the hob into the blender ... Moan over. Reader, I liquidised the soup, sieved it back into a saucepan and left it to sit while I went out to do a bit of gardening.

Next to arrive home was the spouse. He took advantage of my absence from the kitchen to taste the soup and approved it. I told him the next step was to add peanut butter, at which he grimaced. I then told him I would also be adding Tobasco. His face relaxed. In went the last two ingredients. It was just as well we had some good quality organic crunchy peanut butter. It wasn't sweet and gave the soup texture. I have to admit that I am never sure about sweet potatoes, but they were well muted by the spices, Tobasco and, to a lesser extent, the peanut butter. This is another soup that I will make again.

Organic in Dublin 

Last weekend I was at the Dublin Food Co-op in Newmarket Square, Dublin 8 ( see 4th March and 8th May 2010).  There is a wonderful array of fruit, vegetables and baked goods there, and you can get a delicious lunch. I stuffed myself with a big, buttery raisin flapjack. Mmm! The premises are hired out for markets on Sundays - a different one for each Sunday of the month. I was telling my colleague "Scarlett" about it and she was delighted as she likes to bring her visitors to different locations. She turned down the offer to join the monthly Grand Canal clean-up!

Honey-Dipped Points 

Yesterday I was delighted to receive an article in the post sent to me by my mother-in-law. She had taken it from Oscailt (the Cork and Dublin Unitarian magazine). The cover picture shows bees on honeycomb. The article by P Spain is a short but wide-ranging account of bees and honey production throughout the ages. If I didn't like honey, I would be put off by the description of it as "regurgitated nectar transformed by enzymes in the bees' glands into an invert solution, then evaporated in the wax cells through a fanning action into a concentrated syrup"!

At the end of the article is a notice from the Federation of Irish Bee-keepers which has designated 2011 "the year of the honeybee."

Finally, I saw that a film called "The Birds, the Bees and the Italians" is being shown during the Dublin Film Festival.


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