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Today is February 16, 2020

Featured Cookbook

Win winter with sweet potato bacon soup

By Andy Chapman

Win winter with sweet potato bacon soup

Ingredients
4-6 large sweet potatoes
3 strips thick bacon
1/4 stick of butter
1 cup water
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 packet chicken stock concentrate
4-5 fresh thyme stems
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

EQUIPMENT NEEDED
Skillet
Soup or stockpot (a large Dutch oven is perfect!) 
Immersion blender or other hot liquid-friendly blender  (like a Ninja, Blendtec or Vitamix)  

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and roast sweet potatoes for 35 minutes or until softened throughout. While the sweet potatoes are in the oven baking, place skillet over medium heat. 

Quickly slice bacon into matchsticks. (Tip: If you fold each bacon strip in half lengthwise, twice, you can slice the six layers of bacon at once. Repeat for each strip.) Add bacon to the skillet and crisp the bacon matchsticks. Remove to a paper towel to use later.

In a large soup or stockpot, whisk the chicken stock into the cup of water over low heat until fully blended. Add the butter and half of the cream and continue to whisk over medium heat. Remove mixture from heat.

Peel the sweet potatoes’ skins off with two forks or use heat resistant gloves to get the job done. (Keep in mind that the steam inside the potato will be hot!) Add the sweet potato “meat” to the soup pot with water mixture. Add half the bacon to the soup pot as well.

Strip the thyme leaves from the stem and add most of the leaves (reserving a few for garnish), nutmeg and cinnamon. Break apart the potato pieces with a wooden spoon or whisk and stir the mixture to begin combining ingredients.

At our house, we call the immersion blender the “boat motor.” It’s a fabulous tool to use in this case because it will minimize cleanup later because the “blending” can happen in the original soup pot. Alternately, you can transfer the ingredients in a couple of “batches” into a large hot food-friendly blender and then stir the batches back together well before serving. Either way, blend the ingredients until the soup is “whipped” — creamy, smooth, velvety. It’s best to remove the soup from heat during blending.

Once blended, add the other half of the cream and milk to the soup slowly. If you need to add a little more milk or cream to help it come to a perfect texture, go for it.

Your soup should be soup, not mashed potatoes; plus, it’s a fact that you can’t have too much cream, bacon or sweet potatoes in any recipe.

Once you’ve gotten the soup silky smooth, bring the pot back to the stove on low-medium heat. Continue stirring until it’s piping hot. If the soup thickens up too much at this point, thin it with chicken stock. If it’s too thin, simmer it longer to reduce it down slightly. This is a very forgiving recipe — which is part of its magic and ease.

We like to serve this soup garnished with a crumble of the reserved bacon and a pinch of fresh thyme. As I mentioned earlier, this is a crowd-pleasing dish, so invite some neighbors over to enjoy this with you or really make someone’s day by taking it over to someone else’s home who needs a bright spot on a gloomy winter day. Pack the soup in one container and the fresh thyme and bacon crumbles separately. Garnish all the bowls after it’s back up to serving temperature. Everyone eats with their eyes, so dress it up with a sprinkle of that bacon and something green and folks will think you just invented soup and won winter. 

 

Chef Andy Chapman lives in Gulfport where he owns and operates Eat Y’all, a business that helps farmers and food producers connect to chefs around the globe who are looking for better ingredients. Andy would love to hear how your turkey turns out. Contact him at andy@eatyall.com or 601-852-3463.   

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