Being confronted by the likes of a crate of knobbly gnarled Portuguese sweet potatoes could be daunting. For me it was a pleasant surprise that meant I needed to hit the Google button and comb my stash of cookery books to make the most of what a sweet potato can provide. Using the finest local ingredients to bring fresh new tastes to your table? I like it ! Well when a gift horse dropped by last week I didn´t look him in the mouth,I became inspired by the challenge of what seasonal goodies I could bring to the table over the coming weeks that would showcase the Portuguese batata doce.So first up a rich soft thick unctuous soup, abundant in organic ingredients.If you’re a bit tired of your favourite recipes, seasonal surprises such as this give you a chance to apply some culinary inspiration. What I came up with was a daal like soup,almost a meal in itself.A strong reminder of warm Indian spices that Vasco de Gama would have returned to Portugal with.Daal is a thick soup-like dish that is a staple in most Indian homes, and is cooked in many different ways across geographic regions.My version is more homely, more Portuguese and introduces some artesan sausage into the equation.It´s mildly spicy,tangy and does wonders when that "north wind doth blow" and when one wonders "what will poor Robin do then?" For those vegetarians amongst you I have included a vegetarian version.
Roasted sweet potato and chouriço soup
1kg (2 pounds) sweet potato peeled and cubed
I large onion chopped
3 garlic cloves
100g unsalted butter
thumb sized piece of ginger
1 litre good quality vegetable stock or bouillon
up to 700ml milk
salt and cayenne pepper
grating of nutmeg
1 tsp turmeric
pinch of piri piri flakes
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup sliced chouriço
On a baking tray arrange sweet potatoes and garlic. Toss with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until potatoes are fork tender, about 30 to 35 minutes.
In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and add choouriço. Saute for 5 minutes or until juices render orange from sausage. Add roasted vegetables and stir. Add dry spices and brown sugar and stir. Pull fresh herbs away from their stems and add to pan Stir and pour in the stock, bring to a gentle boil and let simmer covered on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes. With a hand blender, puree soup until smooth. For a smoother soup, you might want to pass the soup through a strainer. Enjoy!