Using the Harvest: Mint

While I love butternut squash soup made any style, I periodically look for things to substitute for squash.  What will make it silky smooth and make me feel warm, good and satiated?  I found the following recipe that called for sweet potatoes.  I had yams on hand (technically different but basically the same thing in the U.S.) and they worked superbly.

What really caught my eye here was the apple and mint raita.  Mint at the farmer’s market yesterday looked too good to pass up so I bought a bunch.  A dollop of this riffed raita swirled into the soup, yum!

Yam and Ginger Soup with Apple-Mint Raita

2 tablespoons canola oil or butter

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 ½-inch piece of fresh ginger (1 oz.) peeled and thinly sliced

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

½ of a fresh jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, left whole

2 pounds yams or sweet potatoes (about 4 medium) peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes

5 ½ cups chicken or vegetable stock

Kosher salt

1 tablespoon lime juice, freshly squeezed

1 tablespoon brown sugar, honey or agave nectar

White pepper, freshly ground

Method for Soup:

Heat oil in a stock or soup pot over low heat.  Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally until soft and translucent.  Add garlic, ginger and cardamom and cook for a minute, stirring.

Increase heat to high and add the jalapeno, yams, 4 cups of stock and ½ teaspoon salt.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer until the yams are very soft (about 15 to 20 minutes).

Remove and cool a few minutes.  Puree in a blender in batches until smooth, being careful of the hot liquid.  Return to the pot and add the remaining stock, a little at a time, until you get a desired thickness.  Add the lime juice and brown sugar, then season with salt and white pepper to taste.  You can add more lime juice and/or brown sugar if needed, per your taste.

Method for Raita:

Put ½ cup plain, non-fat Greek style yogurt in a bowl.

Add ½ of a firm style apple (Fuji, Golden Delicious, Pink Lady) that is peeled, cored and finely diced.

Add ¼ cup of  packed mint leaves, finely chopped.

Add 1/8 teaspoon jalapeno powder or ½ teaspoon finely minced jalapeno (optional for kick).

Stir all of the above and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper as desired.

Easy (Lazy?) Method for Raita: Go to Trader Joe’s, purchase their Raita, add the apple and lots of mint, per above, and jalapeno powder if desired.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Start to finish: about 45 minutes, including enjoyment of a glass of wine while cooking.

Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking, Soups and Stews 2010

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