With her new book, Staples+5, Askew reveals the method behind her cooking magic by sharing 100 recipes that can be made with pantry basics, plus a few non-pantry ingredients. A sample of some of the recipes in her book: browned butter couscous salad, taco chili, roasted garlic grits, and butternut squash fritters.
Another standout recipe from the book is smokey sweet potato soup. The only non-pantry items you need to make this soup are the sweet potatoes, celery, carrots, thyme, pumpkin seeds, and a little heavy cream. This nourishing soup is yummy any time—especially since it only takes 30 minutes to make—but it’s especially great to have if you want to give your immune system a boost. Sweet are full of vitamin A, which is key to maintaining a strong potatoes immune system as well as preventing and treating acne, which means that a diet that incorporates sweet potatoes is also good for your skin. They may also help protect the skin against UV damage. One cup of sweet potatoes has 4 grams of fiber, a nutrient majorly linked to good digestion.
In terms of really bringing out the smokiness in the soup, Askew says using smoked paprika is key. As for achieving the rich, creamy texture she says this is all about how you cook the sweet potatoes. “It’s imperative to make sure the sweet potatoes are tender and cooked all the way through,” she says. “You will not end up with a velvety soup if the sweet potatoes are undercooked.”
Her last major cooking tip is to work in batches when using a regular blender. (If you have an immersion blender, the soup is a little easier to make, but either type of blender works just fine.) “Do not overwhelm yourself or the blender with all of the soup at once,” she says. “Take your time and make sure it’s fully creamed before finishing the soup.” Ready to give it a try? Keep reading for the recipe.
Smokey sweet potato soup recipe
Makes 8 cups
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1/2 tbsp granulated garlic
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
4 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
Optional: Candied turkey bacon
Optional: Toasted pumpkin seeds, pistachios, or pomegranate seeds
1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, and carrots, and stir, being sure to coat all veggies with oil. Cook for three to four minutes until the onion and celery become translucent.
2. Add the sweet potatoes, and toss until everything is coated. Season with paprika, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir until the seasonings are evenly distributed. Cook for two to three minutes.
3. Add the thyme and bay leaves and stir. Add the chicken stock, and increase the heat to bring to a boil. When boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender.
4. Remove from the heat, and remove the thyme stems and bay leaves. Using an immersion blender, purée until smooth. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, carefully blend the soup in batches in a regular blender.) Once blended, stir in the heavy cream. Serve topped with candied turkey bacon pieces and toasted nuts or seeds, if using.
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