This is a lovely, gorgeously orange soup (which makes me feel a little bad about having made it on St. Patrick's Day), but it does need a warning:
The puree gets very hot and remarkably napalm-like both in consistency and in its effect on flesh. I spattered a couple of drops on my hand and got almost instant nasty blisters. Be aware!
This would also be perfectly easy and quite yummy without the bacon, though I would suggest using another ingredient to replace some of the bacon's smokiness. Perhaps a couple of diced canned chipotles and a little of the adobo sauce in which they're packed? Let me know if you try that and it works OK.
Another successful soup in that I thought I was making a big batch but there was nothing left after a single meal.
Maple Sweet Potato Bisque, from Ken Haedrich's Soup Makes the Meal: 150 Soul-Satisfying Recipes for Soups, Salads, and Breads *
Serves six-ish to eight-ish, or only four-ish if everyone's hungry
4 cups peeled, roughly chunked sweet potatoes and/or carrots. I had 3 medium sweet potatoes and ended up using 2 medium carrots to make an even 4 cups.
5 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I used 2 cups chicken, 3 cups vegetable, largely to test out a new ingredient: vegetarian Better than Bouillon. This admittedly flawed test proved that it was worth eating.)
1/4 pound bacon, diced (or 2 Tbsp olive oil or butter)
1 large onion, diced
About 8 leaves fresh sage, chopped, or perhaps a teaspoon or so of dried sage
1 Tbsp flour (it wouldn't be the end of the world if you left this out, like, say if you were non-gluten-eating)
2 Tbsp maple syrup (I'd probably omit this if using the chipotles, but if it works for you... hey, whatever)
1/2 cup cream, milk or half-and-half
Possibly a couple of diced canned chipotle chiles and a couple tablespoons of adobo sauce, if you're not using bacon and/or if you want some more smoky heat in this soup
Salt and pepper to taste
Additional fresh sage, sliced into ribbons, for garnish
Combine the sweet potatoes, carrots and stock in a soup pot. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are fall-apart tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, back at the stovetop... place bacon in a cold skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until browned and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Pour off all but 2 Tbsp fat. (Or, if you're not using bacon: heat 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat.)
Add onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent, tender and beginning to brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. If using fresh sage, add it after about 5 minutes of sauteing... if using dried sage, you can probably toss it in at the beginning. When onion is tender/brownish, add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for one or two minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
When potatoes and carrots are very tender, turn off heat and allow to cool briefly. (This is where I went wrong, leading to painful self-burnage.) Then puree solids, in batches if necessary, and including a cup or so of broth in each batch, in a food processor or blender. Let them puree a good long while so they're very smooth.
Return soup pot to heat. Whisk in sauteed onions, stirring thoroughly. Pour puree back into soup (CAREFULLY! This is the point at which I burned the hell out of myself) and whisk to combine. Whisk in cream or milk, maple syrup, 2/3 or so of reserved bacon (if using it) and chipotles (if using them).
Bring soup to a very gentle simmer. Simmer 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Serve with reserved bacon and strips of sage to garnish.
*This is the first soup I've made from this deceptively humble-looking cookbook, and I was pretty darn impressed. I also like the concept of the book: each soup is paired with a salad and a quick bread or other baked goodie. Looking forward to the days when I have energy & time enough to try some of the bread recipes to go alongside my soups!