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Sweet Potato, Chestnut, and Bacon Soup

This is meant as a direct response to the question – what do you do when you come across a monstrously large sweet potato that stares you in the face and demands to be bested?

You puree the sucker into soup, that’s what.

Sweet Potato, Chestnut, and Bacon Soup
1 large head of garlic
3 lbs. sweet potato, peeled and chopped
6 C chicken stock
8 strips bacon
30 fresh sage leaves
1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne*
250 g cooked chestnut, chopped

Roast the head of garlic in the ordinary fashion. That is, by cutting off the top, pouring in olive oil, wrapping it in aluminum foil, and sticking it in a 375F oven for about 45 minutes, or until lovely, fragrant, and soft.

Boil the sweet potato in the stock for 15-20 minutes, with salt to taste.

In the meantime, slowly cook the bacon – you want to render out as much fat as you can without burning it. Then pour off the fat (we save ours in a can in the freezer, because it always comes in handy eventually). Chop the bacon into bits.

Add the sage, garlic (squirted out of its peel), and cayenne to the soup. Puree until fairly smooth. Then, stir in the chestnut and bacon.

Serve hot, garnished with sour cream or creme fraiche and a sprinkle of sage.

* I use super-hot cayenne, so if you’re using ordinary supermarket cayenne, you may want to double this or more.

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15 Responses to “Sweet Potato, Chestnut, and Bacon Soup”

  1. Nabeela says:

    yay, it’s soup season! :)

  2. lisa says:

    too bad, this is a recipe from jamie oliver

  3. Katie says:

    It could also answer the question: What do you do with the mountain of chestnuts your neighbor just deposited on your doorstep?

    Regardless of the question the answer looks gorgeous!

  4. mr.ed says:

    This sounds like a goodie for butternut squash, like the football sized one sitting on the counter right now. Cool it off with a “trollop” of yogurt.

  5. Lydia says:

    Sounds like a perfect yummy soup to celebrate the start of Fall. As a non-bacon eater, I often substitute smoked paprika to get a bit of that taste — and it comes in mild or hot varieties, so you can choose how spicy to make your soup. Beautiful photos!

  6. Danielle says:

    Nabeela – Finally!

    Lisa – What is? I’m not familiar with any of Jamie Oliver’s recipes, to my knowledge. Does he make a similar soup?

    Katie – This is turning into a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy sort of thing, it seems. You’re absolutely right.

    mr. ed – Yeah, I can definitely see that working, too.

    Lydia – Black cardamom or even smoke powder or liquid smoke might work, too.

  7. Ramona says:

    We must have soup esp! While shopping for ingredients for my submition to your food even (garlic!), I bought a few sweet potatoes and pancetta for a soup. I’ve got some fage to top it off.

  8. novalis says:

    Lisa, I invented this recipe myself. I was inspired by a sweet potato, lemongrass, and coconut milk soup I saw somewhere — but I also have never heard of Jamie Oliver.

    Googling reveals that he does have a similar recipe, except: (a) it’s with squash, not sweet potato, (b) it’s not a soup, and (c) it doesn’t have roasted garlic or sage.

    That just shows that great minds think alike.

  9. BrownbagLiz says:

    This looks fantastic. Did you cook the chestnuts or buy them precooked? I’ve never cooked them myself because I’m normally not a huge fan, but it seemed like they would go really well in this.

  10. Julie says:

    This looks wonderful. Do you have any hints on shelling chestnuts? Last year I tried making a soup that used about a pound of chestnuts and all that chestnut shelling was agony. Even still I love chestnuts enough that the first thing I think when I read Katie’s question is: “How do you find a neighbor who will deposit a mountain of chestnuts on your doorstep?” That’s a good neighbor to have.

  11. Danielle says:

    Ramona – Your soup looks fantastic!

    Liz – I buy them pre-cooked, pre-shelled, and vacuum-packed. I’ve cooked them myself, but I hate shelling them, and the vacuum-packed ones really are quite good.

    Julie – I hate shelling chestnuts! I always end up cutting myself under my fingernails, it’s dreadful. So I go for the pre-cooked, pre-shelled, vacuum-packed kind. They’re very tasty, and way, way less painful.

    My grandmother seems to have no problem shelling chestnuts, but I haven’t managed to figure out her secret yet!

  12. brilynn says:

    It has bacon, BACON! It’s amazing.

  13. chefjp says:

    I really enjoyed the recipe. I make something similar to this but use a combination of sweet potatoes & butternut squash.

  14. Dana says:

    Ah, so *this* is what I can make with those chestnuts at the farmers market :). Looks great!

  15. Annemarie says:

    Ah, see, you’ve also answered my question: what do you do with the bagful of chestnuts picked up while on a walk through the woods. Question answered.

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October 2007
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