Stock Then Soup

One meaning of the word stock is something basic – that is, the central ingredient around which everything else depends. In other words, stock is the initial building block in the construction of a soup. Some cooks make stock from scratch and some rely on stock cubes. I prefer to make my own when I can, but have been known to resort to those concentrated cubes or powders on occasion. However, having just posted a recipe for spicy Thai-style fish stock, I was now in search of a soup.

Most internet searches for relevant recipes came up with Tom Yum Talay, a seafood and vegetable soup (the flavours of which I based my stock). However, a number of other results referred to a creamy soup made with sweet potatoes and coconut cream or milk. I expect the latter is based on the flavours of a Thai sweet potato curry which also freatured prominently in those google results. Creamy sweet potato soup got my vote. Numerous toppings were suggested for this soup, but I remembered a coriander chutney I used to make. With a little bit of adjustment, it was a perfect accompaniment to offset the sweet & spicy, creamy soup. Also, it adds a complimentary colour – always a plus in presentation.

Thai-style Sweet Potato Soup with Coriander Chutney
A satisfying soup for a cold day. First make the chutney and let it set to meld the flavours while you make the soup.

Chutney
This will probably make more than you will use for the quantity of soup below (unless you like lots of it). It can also be used as a spread with cheese or as a condiment with curries.

  • Handful of cleaned fresh coriander (approximately 25g)
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped green mildly hot chilli pepper such as Spanish padron (pimento), French Basque Piment d’Anglet, Hungarian hot banana pepper, Mexican serrano, or if you want a lot of heat – choose a Thai chilli
  • 2 pinches of sea salt
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 60ml (approx. 1/4 cup) light oil such as corn or rape seed (Canola).

For the chutney, heat up a saucepan of water and also get a bowl of chilled water ready. When the water in the saucepan is boiling, add your cleaned coriander and blanch for about 30 seconds. Drain and immediately plunge the coriander into the cold water – this will stop the cooking process. When cooled, take the coriander out and dry it on paper towels or a clean tea towel. Finely chop the chilli. Put the blanched coriander, the chopped chilli, salt, lemon juice and oil into a mixer. Purée until smooth. Put the chutney in a bowl covered in clingfilm and set aside while you make the soup.

Soup
The spicy stock offsets the sweetness of both the vegetable and the coconut milk.

Start the soup by putting the stock in a large pot. Peel, cut and cube the sweet potato. Add this to the stock. Bring the stock to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Let the stock simmer until the sweet potato is soft, about 30-45 minutes.

Using a hand blender, purée the soup and add the coconut milk. Simmer uncovered for an additional 30 minutes. The texture should be smooth and not too watery. Taste and adjust with salt.

Serve in bowls and carefully spoon the chutney on top.

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