Sweet potato soup: a love letter
After my not-so-healthy foray into sweet potato territory last week, I decided this week to make that soup that I avoided last week. I was a little hesitant because my last attempt at a similar soup with butternut squash didn’t turn out very well—the texture was too grainy and I ended up doing the unthinkable for a poor twenty-something: I threw the leftovers away. So not only did I not want to fail again, but there was the added pressure of my houseguest—my boyfriend Charlie. Granted, the pressure is all from me, and not him. Once, I was making macaroni and cheese from the box and I didn’t set a timer for the noodles. They ended up cooking for something like twenty minutes before I remembered. After so long, the noodles looked like something you’d use for fish bait, but I went through the motions and added the cheese and milk anyway. I tried a few bites, and it was slimy and absolutely inedible. I hate throwing food away. I was angry and hungry and I got out a bowl for cereal with more banging than was necessary, and Charlie scooped up some macaroni and cheese. “Seriously,” I said, “you don’t have to eat it. It won’t hurt my feelings. It’s disgusting.” He settled on the couch and ate a forkful. He shrugged. “It tastes fine,” he said, before eating almost all of it.
So, I wasn’t (too) worried about Charlie not liking the soup, since I knew he would likely eat it anyway (whether out of kindness or hunger or some combination of the two). Still, in a non-feminist way, I wanted to cook a nice meal for my guy while he was in town. There’s a part of me that (sometimes) wants to wear an apron and have a meal ready for him when he gets home. It’s not that he can’t cook for himself or that he expects me to cook for him. But there’s something primal about the ability to provide nourishment to someone you love. At the very least, I’d like to keep him alive.
The recipe was simple: sweet potatoes, apples, carrots, red lentils, and a lot of spices. To my dismay, there were no pre-chopped sweet potatoes, so I picked two of the odd-looking vegetables at random. Back at home, with Charlie waiting patiently on the couch, I started chopping. (A side note: I have a couch in my kitchen. It’s one of the best decisions my roommates and I have ever made, and makes our kitchen the homiest room in the apartment.) After an embarrassingly short amount of time, my arm CRAMPED UP. It wasn’t just tired, my arm just straight up stopped trying.
I thought the combination of vegetables was a little odd, but cooking them in a little bit of butter erased all doubts. I poured in the vegetable broth,
pilfered added the necessary spices, and let mix simmer.
Half an hour later, I started pouring the soup into the blender in batches. I know that a food processor is supposed to be better, but I think the blender is superior. I end up with a much better texture in the blender. After all was blended to a creamy broth, I added a little water and let the soup cook for a little while longer.
The ridiculous thing was, I was nervous. This was an easy meal and I’ve been dating Charlie since before we could legally drink. I set the table, placing the silverware just so and setting out crackers. Even though the recipe was easy, I was afraid that it would be inedible like the butternut squash soup. There were so many different spices that the danger for nasty taste was also a real possibility. After a few more minutes of simmering, I added dollops of plain yogurt and set the bowls on the table.
I pretended not to care while I watched Charlie take a spoonful. “It’s good,” he said, “really good.” I won’t lie, I was sort of hoping for tears of joy or something similar. But I took a spoonful, and he was right. It was really good.
The next day, we went out for a very expensive Japanese dinner at the restaurant owned by Ming Tsai of Food Network fame, and I had the sweet potato soup as an appetizer. Charlie tried it and shrugged. “Honestly,” he said, “your soup was better.”
As it turns out, he can still make me blush.