Saturday, January 7, 2017

Sweet Potato Surprise Soup

I don't cook all that much these days. There are some reasons for that, but mostly I just don't feel very inspired to be in the kitchen. I assemble simple meals, but I don't find myself pouring over cookbooks or perusing the internet for the next recipe or ingredient to try. That's fine by me. Maybe I'll get a rejuvenated interest. Who knows? I was never a great cook, but it fancied my interest for a bit. It's like having had a friend I hung around with a lot for a bunch of years, but then life swept us both into other directions.
Today we had a snowstorm that kept me in the house much of the day. I did go out and play on my bike for a bit. I didn't have either a long nor a smooth ride, but it was still good to get out and practice snow riding skills. It was also fun to receive my 9 year old neighbor's reaction. Upon finishing a snow angel, she looked up and said, "Are you going to ride your bike in the snow?". When I told her I was she said, "Are you a biker?". I told her I supposed I was. I showed her my studded tires and she seemed impressed. Perhaps this will plant a seed and she will someday find herself riding her bike in the snow too.

My trip to Whole Foods this morning was a comical scene really. The parking lot was a chaotic mess (I believe due to a small collision) and the inside was not any better. The lines were longer than I had ever seen and extended down the aisles. I observed that the express lane seemed to be the only line moving very efficiently, so I made some choices, narrowed my basket to 8 items and returned the rest to their respective shelves. The carrots could wait until another day, but the sourdough bread and Cholula hot sauce were coming home with me. 
So I tell you all this, because when I went to go assemble dinner, there was not much to assemble. I was pretty hungry, so what to do besides eat more snacks? I've probably mentioned before that when I belonged to a CSA farm, on volunteer days we would make a stone pot soup. Everyone would bring one ingredient, toss it in the pot and it would simmer while we worked. Today, I did a similar thing where I took some ingredients I had on hand without much rhyme or reason and put them in a pot with some broth. I hoped for a result at least somewhat satisfying, but kept my expectations on the low end.
The soup was colorful and also turned out fairly tasty, so I thought I'd record it in case I wanted to replicate it down the road. I made this again on 2/7, added celery, used kale instead of spinach and garnished with Parmesan cheese. I ended up liking the kale better than the spinach. Perhaps because it gave it more bite and texture.

Sweet Potato Surprise Soup
1 stalk celery (optional) 
2 tblspn olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 small sweet potato chopped
1/2 cup quinoa
1/3 cup of frozen peas
several handfuls of baby spinach or chopped kale
small handful grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 tspn dried basil
a few shakes of garlic powder
5 cups water
1 bouillon cube
Parmesan cheese, finely grated (optional)

1. In a soup pot, saute celery onions, carrots and sweet potato in olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Be sure not to brown the onions.
2. Add water, bouillon, basil, garlic and quinoa. Bring to a boil. Then, turn to low heat, cover and let cook for 15 minutes, so the quinoa cooks.
3. Turn the heat back up to a lively simmer, add peas, spinach or kale, tomato and a bit of salt to taste. Put the cover on to let the spinach wilt. Then remove cover and let simmer another 10 minutes or so.
4. Garnish with Parmesan.