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Curried Sweet Potato Bisque

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Picture of Curried Sweet Potato Bisque
This savory delight is a wonderful pre-dinner treat to "awaken the appetite" that is filling enough to serve as an entree with a big hunk of homemade bread and fresh butter, plus it is easy to make and good for you.  This unusual soup is perfect for chilly midwinter days, but is also versatile enough to be served chilled as a refreshing summer treat.  I hope you will join me as I make my one of my favorite soups, a Curried Sweet Potato Bisque.

A quick look at the front page of the site shows projects uploaded by woodworkers, knitters, welders, electricians and artists. It is safe to say we are an eclectic group, but we are brought together by a common desire to create and share.  Although, we come from diverse backgrounds, I would hazard a guess that many of us first began "making" things in the kitchen.  I always love the similarities between the kitchen, studio and workshop.  Places where you need to know the basic principles and tools in order to get started, where experience lurks behind every corner waiting to teach a lesson you can't learn any other way, where a little knowledge and perseverance brings great rewards.  All of these places are just waiting for that spark to strike, waiting for a little inspiration.

Inspiration comes from many places, but in this case it comes from the ingredients and a little cold weather.  To me nothing says comfort food like the smell of fresh baked bread and a big pot of soup slowly simmering on the stove.  The legendary Auguste Escoffier , said "Soup puts the heart at ease, calms down the violence of hunger, eliminates the tension of the day, and awakens and refines the appetite."  That is pretty high praise for such a simple dish, but I could not agree more.

If you enjoy this Instructable, I would ask that you please take a moment and vote for it in the soup contest.  Thank you for your consideration.
 
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Step 1: The Gathering...

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As with any other project, the first step is to gather your materials and tools.

Materials List
aka Ingredients

1 Tablespoon of oil, I use canola oil
1 cup of chopped onion
1 garlic clove chopped or 1 heaping teaspoon of minced garlic
1 tablespoon of curry paste
1 Tablespoon of fresh ginger, grated
4 cups of peeled sweet potatoes, cubed, 1 medium potato makes about 1 cup
1 red or yellow sweet bell pepper, chopped and deseeded
3 - 14.5 oz cans of chicken stock
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 Tablespoon of Captain Rodney's Mango Fire Hot Sauce
2 Tablespoons of light rum (optional)

Dollop of sour cream and dash of paprika, per serving


The Tools

Controlled heat source, I used a standard gas cooktop
A vegetable peeler
A sharp knife and cutting surface
Measuring cups and spoons
A cooking vessel, I use a 5.25 quart enameled cast iron pot
Stirring utensil, I opted for my favorite wooden spatula
A blender, actually an immersion blender is perfect for this recipe but I do not have one so I use a standard blender.

Once you have gathered your materials and tools, you can move on to...

Step 2: Prepare thyself...err...thy ingredients.

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Actually, preparing thyself is not a bad idea .  So put on some nice music, wash your hands and clear your mind in preparation for this therapeutic portion of the recipe.  While you are washing your hands, it is a good idea to wash your vegetables as well.  I mean honestly, do you know where those have been?  I did not think so.  OK, now that your hands and vegetables are in a state that is often referred to as "next to godliness", grab ye olde vegetable peeler and remove the skin from the sweet potatoes.  Do not worry, this does not hurt them, they in fact, prefer to lounge about in a skinless state, but lack the utensils or opposable digits to do this for themselves, so really you are doing them a favor. You may also choose to reserve a few slivers of sweet potato at this point to use as garnish later.  I did this and then forgot to add them for the pictures, sorry about that.

As an aside, if you choose, you could make this recipe leaving the skins on, which adds nutrients, but I find it adds a grittiness to the final product that no amount of simmering can remove, so I skin them.

Now that you have a lovely grouping of sweet potatoes, sans skins, it is time to chop the vegetables.  This time you do not want to clear your mind, you want to focus.  Chopping is a dangerous business, so you simply must be careful.  I have chopped a great many things in my time and pride myself as a chopper of note, but while making this very recipe before the holidays, I let my mind wander and I now have a lovely scar and no feeling whatsoever in my right thumbtip.  So let my carelessness stand as a warning to you all.

Seriously, be careful and chop your potatoes, peppers and onions to your heart's content.  The smaller you chop the pieces the less time it will take for them to cook in the broth, but the longer it will take to chop them, so you have to make your own decision on how to handle things.  As you can see from the pictures, I left my veggies in fairly large pieces, but I had plenty of time and I love having a pot simmering on the stove.  You will also note that I used both red and yellow peppers, this choice was based purely on the fact that I was prepping another dish that needed a half and half mix, and you should in no way feel obligated to follow my example in this.  Although, it does make for a more interesting photograph.

Now that you have done your time on the chopping block, let's get down to the real business...

Step 3: Begin the Cookery...

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OK, you have your ingredients all prepped, the velvet sounds of (insert favorite artist here) are rolling through the air and your are ready to get this bisque on the road.

Grab your cooking vessel and get ready to start cooking in earnest.  I am using a 5.25 quart enameled cast iron casserole by Rachel Ray because my Mom gave me one as a gift and it works very well for this recipe, but any pot of sufficient size will do. 

Add your tablespoon of oil and bring it up to heat over a medium flame.  I choose canola oil, because it is low in saturated fats, it doesn't over flavor the dish and it has a high burn temperature.  Once your oil is up to temp, add your onions and curry paste and mix them well together.  Things are going to seem a little dry at this point, but keep stirring so it does not stick and as the onions begin to break down things will moisten up nicely. 

Cook the onions, curry and oil for about 4 minutes or so and add the garlic and ginger.  If there are other people around, this is the point when they pop in to see what you are making because this smells wonderful.  I keep this mixture going for about 2 minutes and then add the peppers, sweet potatoes and chicken stock.  I add the stock last to avoid splashing, but it is your kitchen, so do what you feel.  At this point raise the heat a little to a medium-high flame and cook for 20 to 45 minutes, until the potatoes are very soft. 

Sorry to be vague on the time, but this is where the size of your vegetable chunks come into play, so don't sweat the time and focus on the consistency.  When the potatoes can be easily mashed with a fork your are ready.  Seriously, don't worry.  The longer this cooks the more concentrated the flavor is.  So, as long as you stir occasionally and don't let it stick, things are only going to get better.

When you deem your potatoes thoroughly softened, it's time to move on to power tools...

Step 4: Frappe? Nay, puree.

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So up until this point it can safely be said that we have simply been making soup or stew, but all that is about to change through the liberal use of power tools.  In order to transform our plain old soup into a creamy, savory bisque we must puree our mixture.

Once again, I recommend that you use caution here, although the whirring blades are reasonably well housed in the blender, they will be spinning at a frightening speed through a very hot liquid, which would love nothing more than to spray out of the blender and give you a lovely burn to remember them by.  So use potholders and make sure all covers are in place, etc. to keep this safe and fun for the whole family.

If you happen to own an immersion blender, or perhaps you win one as part of the Instructables soup contest, this is an absolutely perfect place to use it.  Using an immersion blender you will be able to puree the mixture in the cooking pot, avoiding the dangerous transfer of hot liquids.  Still, use caution, those immersion blenders are essentially outboard motors on sticks, like something from one of the Phantasm movies, so please be careful.

For those of us with traditional blenders, you will need to transfer the soup to the blender, taking care not to splash as the vegetables fall into the broth.  On my blender it takes two and a half carafes of puree-ing to process the entire batch through it's semi-magical transformation from soup to bisque, so grab a serving bowl to transfer the bisque into as you process it.

At this point you could and some would say should pour the mixture through a sieve to strain out any larger pieces, but I say throw caution to the wind and consider any tiny pieces of unassimilated bell pepper to be evidence of the handmade nature of this product.

Stick with me, we are almost there...

Step 5: The Final Touches

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Now that you have your pureed soup, I mean bisque, We need to stir in a couple of final ingredients to bring it all together.

First, stir in a teaspoon or so of cinnamon to bring out the flavor of the curry and add depth to the over all flavor.

Next add a tablespoon or so of Captain Rodney's Mango Fire Hot Sauce.  Any sweet hot sauce would work here, but this is my favorite and I love the flavor and hint of mango that it adds.

Finally, finish up with two tablespoons of light rum, I choose Myers's Platinum White , but let your preference decide.  Using dark rum is an option, but I find it brings too much of it's own flavor to the bisque.  Of course, using any rum is optional, but it really adds a smoothness to the flavor that really brings the bisque together.  Think of the rum as the bisque version of the Dude's rug .

Feel free to adjust the amounts on all three of these ingredients, as they are very much "to taste".  I actually use more hot sauce and cinnamon when I make it for myself, but my wife insists I tone it back for guests.

Step 6: Stand and Deliver and Present and Serve

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You have gone through all the steps, taken your time and now you are almost ready to enjoy the pinnacle in pureed sweet potato soups that feature curry as a major flavor component.  Using your favorite serving spoon or ladle, fill portion appropriate sized vessels with this rich, creamy goodness, add a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt if you prefer and a sprinkle of sweet paprika and you are ready to serve.

There are several great additions to this soup, so let you imagination run wild.  I have added leftover rice to the finished bisque for a heartier meal and it is really excellent with a little toasted coconut sprinkled on top, so have fun with it.

I hope you have enjoyed this long winded and overly detailed introduction to this great dish, is really simple to make and  it's beautiful presentation makes you look like a star to your guests.  I always make plenty as it keeps well in the refrigerator and I swear it is one of those dishes that is even better the next day.

Step 7: The Simple, Unadorned Recipe

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For those who are more into the brevity thing, I present:

Monkeybrad's Curried Sweet Potato Bisque

1 Tablespoon of oil (I used canola because it’s low in saturated fats, doesn’t over-flavor and has a high burn temperature.)
1 cup of chopped onion
1 garlic clove chopped or 1 heaping teaspoon of minced garlic
1 tablespoon of curry paste
I Tablespoon of fresh ginger, grated
4 cups of peeled sweet potatoes, cubed
1 red sweet bell pepper chopped and deseeded
3 - 14.5 oz cans of chicken stock
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 Tablespoon of Captain Rodney's Mango Fire Hot Sauce
2 Tablespoons of light rum (optional)

Dollop of sour cream and dash of paprika, per serving


Heat oil over medium low heat, add curry paste and onions. Cook about 4 minutes, then add garlic and ginger and cook 2 more minutes. Add bell peppers, sweet potatoes and chicken stock. Raise heat to medium and stir occasionally, cooking till potatoes are very soft. Remove from heat and, then puree mixture in blender. You may need to do this in batches. Once pureed, add cinnamon, hot sauce and rum for a smoother flavor.

Serve in soup bowls with a dash of paprika and a dollop of sour cream.

TejasToast4 years ago
I would like to have this dish prepared for me at some point :)
whatabout the idea of making it yourself! i am the worst est most badly co ordinated cook in Australia ,the other day I burnt 8 pieces of toast .But I can make yummy pumpkin soup.This contest culinary soup.looks pretty easy to make .I will give it a go ...
Made this last night. Great color, wonderful taste, my roommates finished all of it. One of them is a classically trained chef and decided to add a few touches to it. A couple of bay leaves, herbs de provence, another tablespoon of the same brand of curry paste but the hot version. After we pureed it, we finished it with some unsalted butter and a little bit of sour cream since cream is, from what she tells me, a traditional ingredient in a bisque. Served with hot homemade bread. Thanks for the great instructable/recipe.
bitbrain4 years ago
I made this bisque last night and was quite pleased with the way it turned out. My daughter was disappointed that it didn't taste like sweet potato casserole, but that got me to thinking that I could easily adapt a casserole recipe and turn it into a curried sweet potato casserole. :-)

I discovered that I no longer own a potato peeler, so I had to go old school with a knife. That slowed me down a bit and I was glad I had extra hands in the kitchen to take up my slack.

Great recipe, Brad!
Monkeybrad (author)  bitbrain4 years ago
Thkn you for the nice comments. I'll have to try that Curried Sweet Potato Casserole, I think that would be excellent, especially with a little toasted coconut on top and perhaps some roasted pecans.
lrs44444 years ago
Made this last night and it was fantastic!
De3babe4 years ago
looks good I voted YUMMMMM
Batness4 years ago
I LOVE sweet potato soup, I must try this sometime! Can any sort of curry be used (red/green/etc)?
Monkeybrad (author)  Batness4 years ago
Any of the standard curries should work. I make it for guests with a basic mild red curry, but heat things up for myself. Experiment with some of the more unusual combinations and let me know how things turn out.
carpii4 years ago
Looks very nice, and pretty interesting use of ingredients.... Rum, curry, yam, cinnamon. Even better, today I learnt that a bisque doesnt have to be seafood based :)

Itd be worth linking to the soup contest if its still going on. Id be happy to vote for you, but I know nothing about it, or how to vote :(
Batness carpii4 years ago
Voting hasn't started yet! :D

On this page above the title "Curried Sweet Potato Bisque" it will have a voting button starting tomorrow I think.
ChrysN4 years ago
Looks delicious!