“There are a few things in life so beautiful, they hurt: swimming in the ocean while it rains, reading alone in empty libraries, the sea of stars that appear when you’re miles away from neon lights of the city, walking in the wilderness, all phases of the moon, the things we do not know about the universe…”
~ Beau Taplin ~
And the list of beautiful things goes on. Like holiday season; sitting around the table with loved ones till all the lights dim out and you wonder where time has gone. Where conversations span through decades past and ones to come, where dreams and memories mix, and moments spend together are always remembered.
We’ve already opened the festive season here, bit by bit, gathering after gathering and within these few weeks leading up to Christmas I’ll be sharing inspirations for tables, feast and gifts.
To begin with is soup both simple and one could say rather fancy too. Smoking sweet potatoes elevates the this humble dish to something a bit more special and without much fuss in the kitchen, and makes for a lovely entry to any holiday feast.
- 4 tbsp rice
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp lapsang souchong tea
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4-6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- ½ cauliflower head broken in small florets
- ½ cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
- bunch of parsley, chopped
- bunch of cilantro, chopped
- Yogurt or crème fraiche for serving
- Line a cast iron frying pan, wok or heavy bottomed casserole with 3 large sheets of aluminum foil overlapping the sides. Add the rice, sugar and tea, place a rack/grid in the pan and turn the heat up to high. When you see smoke starting to rise, place the sweet potatoes on the rack, cover everything tightly with a lid, and wrap the sides with the foil (to prevent the smoke from escaping) and reduce the heat to medium. Continue to smoke for about 15 minutes, then remove from the heat and leave covered for another 15 minutes.
- Heat a tablespoon of oil in deep pan and gently fry the onion till softens. Add smoked sweet potatoes, season and pour over stock and simmer till potatoes are cooked. Blend well, taste and adjust seasoning.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/392F.
- Coat cauliflower florets 1-2 tbsp with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast for 20 minutes. Half way through, stir in the hazelnuts. Once out of the oven, mix with fresh herbs and top smoked sweet potato soup with a dollop of crème fraiche or yogurt.