I was slightly out of town for a few weeks. By "slightly" I mean a well-timed vacation in Israel. We left NJ a few days before Sandy blew through town, and returned just hours before a Nor'Easter lightly coated our lawn with 18 inches of fluffy snow.
We were amazingly lucky. Lights, heat and a dry basement greeted us upon our return. Only a few tree branches were downed. A neighbor's tree sheared off at root level, bounced off his fence and landed mere inches from our shed. Even our basement window, sporting several cracks from a long-ago wayward baseball, sealed with a kiss and mailing tape, held fast.
We had lost power for only 4 days. The only real casualties were the contents of the fridge. I can't really complain since others had far far worse. Some waited 2 weeks or more for power to return. Others lost their homes outright to wind, flood or fire damage. I hope that you, Dear Reader, safely survived the weather and its aftermath, and that everything is returning to normal as quickly as possible.
My swag bag from the Kosher Blogger Conference this past Monday (another story for another post) contained, among other items, a packet of zhug, a spice mixture that for many of you may be a tad unfamiliar. Pronounced incorrectly most of the time (shhhh, but with a z, quickly followed by hoog while simultaneously clearing your throat), zhug is a middle-eastern hot sauce, wildly popular in Israel. I think it was even an ingredient in the pizza we had one lunch during our trip (I was falafelled and Israeli-saladded out by day 3). Usually found in saucy condiment form, my zhug sample was a mixture of various ground spices. If zhug in any form isn't available by you, see the ingredients list for a reasonable substitute.
Because I served this soup alongside a meat dinner, I used real chicken broth. It can easily be made parve/vegan by using vegetarian chicken broth instead, or dairy by using said veggie broth and either cream or half-and-half for the rice (or coconut) milk.
Spiced-Up Sweet Potato Soup
1 Tbl. olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 tsp. dry zhug mixture (or 1/4 tsp. each ground garlic, coriander, cumin, cardamom and 1/8 tsp. each ground cloves and crushed red pepper)
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. curry powder
4 cups chicken stock
2 Tbl. honey
1 cup rice (or coconut) milk, plus more for garnish
1 tsp. kosher salt, or to taste
1 Tbl. cilantro leaves
Heat oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions, and saute for 2 minutes or until onion is coated with oil and its leaves start to separate.
Add sweet potatoes and stir to coat with oil as well.
|Zhug is pretty! And pretty hot, too!|
Sprinkle on zhug, cinnamon, ginger and curry.
Stir in chicken stock and honey. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are tender.
Remove from heat and puree with an immersion blender.
Stir in rice (or coconut) milk. Add salt, then taste and add more if needed.
|Swirl is more pronounced if coconut milk is used.|
Ladle into 4 soup bowls. Swirl on a few tablespoons of rice (or coconut) milk and garnish with a few cilantro leaves just before serving.
Disclaimer - because this recipe is part of an online cooking challenge group, the linked recipes below might not be kosher.