Sweet potatoes add body and a boost of color and to one of my seasonal favorites- pumpkin soup. But before I get to the recipe, Dear Reader, I just need to kvetch a little. This won't take long.
You see, I am cooking from the left side of my brain- and I don't like it one bit. Well, truth be told, I'm actually doing more consulting in the kitchen than chopping and stirring and getting my hands all nice and sticky.
Which is exactly the point.
I must sit apart from all the action and fun, perched as I now am in my wheelchair, offering verbal guidance (the generous of spirit might even say, wisdom) to my willing-but-never-cooked-much husband while he does all the culinary work. Our tiny kitchen really has no room for me (and my new wheels) to wedge myself close enough to be of any substantial help. This cocina ain't big enough for the two of us. So the gimp has to sit this one out. Off to the side.
Which leads us back to the whole left brain-right brain verbal vs. visual mystique.
You see, I cook without recipes, for the most part. I use what I have on hand, what's in season. I improvise. And my baking recipes I adhere to with, maybe, 80 to 90% fidelity. I'm always seduced by, What if... I'm intuitive. Spontaneous. And messy (just ask my husband). I never toss the same ingredients together twice in exactly the same way. It's called being a right brained visual thinker. I am unable (even if I wanted to) to follow instructions in a linear fashion. I'm genetically resistant to the concept of: this is tried and true so don't mess with it.
So when my lovely, patient, helpful husband asks me, How much balsamic vinegar do I add? I stare blankly (I'm pondering). I visualize (which sparks the neural pathways in the right side of my brain where I see pictures). Then I start to conjure a verbal response (scurrying back to the left brain) and I approximate my intuition, pictures and kinesthetic antics into speech.
I wave my arm and twist my hands in the air like a lunatic.
And it's never quite right. It's an approximation. Subtle shades of taste lost in translation. To be fair, we've had plenty of good meals based on this left brain verbal analysis. Steve has made a killer meatloaf and a damn fine shrimp stir-fry among many, tasty dishes. I am more than well fed (um, I've gained five pounds).
It's just that, well, I miss the whole hands-on thing. The whole stirring, humming, chopping, seasoning, splashing, tasting, guessing, adjusting, making a mess thing. When I cook my whole body gets involved. Much more so than my imperfect brain. So I miss that.
I've tried using the walker to stand on one foot next to the counter (I can do that for three minutes or so before I get wobbly and loopy and gratefully sit back down in the wheelchair). I've placed a cutting board on my lap and sliced green peppers and onions. But instead of feeling helpful, I start to feel like I'm simply in the way, interrupting Dear Husband's flow, blocking the door to the fridge or the cupboard that inevitably holds the thing he is reaching for. I spend my time in the kitchen wheeling backward and forward, forward and backward, trying (in a goddess-like manner, of course) not to be an obstacle.
So that is where I'm at. Six weeks down, two more to go- before we x-ray this old celiac hip again and check our progress. In the meantime, there will still be no funny business. I'll behave. And sit safely in my wheelchair. Tossing my opinions out like so many chocolate sprinkles. Here's a soup we made.
|Snow in New Mexico.|
Pumpkin-Sweet Potato Soup Recipe
I've been making this basic recipe for years. I used to call it Winter Solstice Pumpkin Soup because the vibrant color reminded me of the sun during the darkest time of year. Use fresh or canned pumpkin or winter squash- either way, it's deceptively simple to prepare.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 medium carrots, peeled, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, to taste
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon curry powder- mild or hot, to taste
Dash of sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 14.5-oz. can pumpkin (or 2 heaping cups fresh, peeled and cubed)
1 medium sweet potato, peeled, cubed
6 cups light vegetable broth
2-3 tablespoons dry sherry or white wine, if desired
1/2 can coconut milk, to taste
Lime zest for garnish
In a heavy soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat, and sauté the onion for about 5 minutes until softened. Add in the chopped carrots and celery, and stir in the spices. Lower heat and gently cook for about 10 minutes, being careful not to brown the onions.
Add in the pumpkin, sweet potato and vegetable broth, and sherry; stir together. Cover and bring to a slow simmer, cooking the soup for about 25-35 minutes until the vegetables are very tender.
Remove from heat, and puree the soup with an immersion hand blender right in the pot; or puree it batches in a blender or food processor (carefully ladle the soup into a blender not more than half full, cover tightly and puree the soup until it is smooth and creamy; return the puree to soup pot).
Taste and adjust the seasonings.
Return the pot to low-medium heat. Stir in the coconut milk and blend till smooth. Warm through gently for ten minutes- don't boil it.
Serve in bowls with a sprinkle of lime zest.
Perfect with my Gluten-Free Multi-Grain Bread, warm from the oven.