While cooking, listen to this: Nicotine - Saint California
There are so many things I loved about living in Israel, but something that always irked me was the lack of seasons. Except for a few days of snow during my time in Jerusalem, the weather was hot, kind of hot, extremely hot, or cool-ish. No blizzards, no super strong windy days. Lots of humidity. And definitely no changing leaves. That's what I missed the most about home, I think, besides my family (duh - hi guys!) - I'm from Michigan, land of beautiful fall foliage and autocratic automobile executives.
When I moved back from Israel, on both occasions, the turning of the leaves made me feel truly back home. Is there anything better than strolling around Central Park in a light jacket, drinking a hot, possibly pumpkin-y beverage and watching the fall foliage (with, perhaps, a half naked man thrown in)? I don't think so. Which is why I am pissed, pissed! about the complete and utter lack of colorful leaves this fall in NYC.
Like, where the fuck is fall? I am writing this post in a tank dress and sandals, in the middle of October. The leaves outside are either green or dead - I have maybe seen four red leaves in total. My sweaters are lonely, begging to be worn - "don't forget us!" they say, "we miss you so!"
Well I can't, sweaters, because it's 85 degrees outside!
But you know what I can do? I can make fall foods. Sure, not-global-warming is frying the world outside, but inside I can make breads and soups and comforting bowls of buttery mush to my heart's content. Which is why, even though it isn't technically soup weather, I'm plowing along and eating it anyway, starting with this easy, vegan and gluten-free Roasted Sweet Potato Soup, with coconut bacon no less.
This soup is everything you want in a bowl of fall: it's thick, warm and the perfect shade of autumnal orange. It can be made in a big batch to meal prep for the week ahead, and gets its contrasting crunch factor from the coconut bacon. Roasting the sweet potatoes before adding them in gives this soup extra flavor and depth, and brings out the natural sweetness of the potatoes. Totally worth this step - once they're done, you just have to toss them into the pot with the veggie broth and onion and blend it up. Voila! Dinner is done.
This soup is totally worth the profuse sweating that will inevitably come with eating warm soup during summer round two. Your underarms may be screaming, "what is wrong with you?!" but your belly will be fulfilled. Hop to it, loves.
Love and meows, Rina
ROASTED SWEET POTATO + COCONUT SOUP WITH COCONUT BACON
Yield: 4 servings
Total Cook Time: 55m
Category: Soup, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Fall
Source: Coconut bacon from Minimalist Baker
Special Equipment: immersion blender/high-speed blender or food processor
4-5 large sweet potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
2-3 tablespoons olive oil, separated
One medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon paprika
1-2 tablespoons cumin
1 quart vegetable broth
3 ounces coconut milk, full-fat, plus more for optional drizzling
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups large-flake unsweetened coconut
1 tablespoon coconut oil or neutral oil of choice
2 tablespoons tamari
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon maple syrup
½ teaspoon liquid smoke (super easy to find online)
Pinch sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Prepare the sweet potatoes: preheat the oven to 425 F, and place the cubed sweet potatoes in a large baking pan or tray. Drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Give a good stir, making sure everything is coated well, and place in the oven for 20 minutes. Stir the sweet potatoes and cook for another 15-20 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are golden brown and caramelized.
Prepare the soup: while the sweet potatoes are in the oven, heat the rest of the olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot on medium heat. When the olive oil is shimmery, add the onions to sweat and simmer. When the onions are translucent and starting to brown, add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes - you don't want it to burn! Add the paprika and cumin and cook for a couple minutes, then add the veggie stock and coconut cream. Raise the heat to high so that the soup can boil. Once it starts to boil, lower the heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. You can add the sweet potatoes directly from the oven whenever they're done.
Prepare the coconut bacon: once the sweet potatoes are out of the oven and added to the soup, lower the oven to 325 F and, using the same tray from the potatoes, add the coconut flakes, coconut oil/oil of choice, tamari, paprika, maple syrup, liquid smoke, salt and pepper. Toss well so that everything is coated, and place in the oven for 5 minutes. Stir well, then cook for another 5-6 minutes. Like the garlic, you don't want this to burn either!
Blend the soup: if you're using an immersion blender, blend the soup directly in the pot until it's smooth and bit-free. If using a blender or food processor, pour the soup in and puree on high speed until smooth. If you have to do this in batches that's totally fine.
To serve: ladle the soup into bowls and top with as much coconut bacon as you'd like. You can also drizzle some extra coconut milk and garnish with some parsley if you're feeling extra fancy. Serve warm.
To keep: this soup will keep well in a tightly-sealed container in the fridge for up to 1 week. You can also freeze it, where it will last even longer. For the coconut bacon, place in a container or zippered plastic bag, and it will keep for a few days.