Earlier this week James and I came down with something fierce; a quick and dirty bug, most likely of the I-ate-something or 24-hour persuasion, that snuck in quickly and silently on Monday afternoon and had us sidelined feeling badly for ourselves for the better part of two days.
I’ll (of course) spare you the details, but as I am sure you well know, thinking about cooking or eating (or talking, walking, thinking, sitting, laying…simply existing….) is completely unbearable when one is in said sad state.
And the remedy for nursing oneself back to health is something the experts call a BRAT diet; that is, a very slow and steady intake of bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast to appease angry stomachs and hopefully encourage what goes down to stay down.
I happen to have a husband who is a complete and utter bananaphobic, and – I don’t know about you – but the thought of bland plain rice and dry toast isn’t really appealing to me, ever. I won’t even try and pretend that in my misery I hopped up spryly and rushed to the kitchen to make this soup for us (no…I was wimpering like a five year old while pouring myself a bowl of peanut butter Puffins after 36 hours of eating zilch), but I will tell you I wish I had someone around who would have made it for me.
And apparently Pugs cannot be trained to do so?
This simple soup is a comforting blend of pureed sweet potato with shreds of chicken breast, pops of bright green peas, the zest of a lime, and a touch of curry powder, and then the bowls are topped off with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a handful of salty pepitas. The broth is thick enough to suspend the chicken shreds and is nearly bisque-like (with no cream in sight), and the slight sweet crunch of the green peas is the perfect foil for the warm curry powder. (Which you can also totally omit if you are a curry hater. Which would be a shame.)
The soup is simple and quick to make, and you can even cheat by using some rotisserie chicken you’ve scooped up at the market. Peas are one of the few vegetables that taste great even after being frozen, and I always keep a big bag in my freezer for times exactly like this.
Curried Sweet Potato and Chicken Soup with Peas, Pepitas, and Yogurt
Makes 8 – 10 servings
This soup freezes really well, so though you can halve the amount when making it, I think it’s handy to make the whole lot and freeze some for nights when you can’t face cooking.
If you already have cooked chicken (from a rotisserie chicken, or even shredded turkey from a leftover dinner would work), then disregard the chicken called for below.
3 sweet potatoes, cut into 1″ chunks
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled
8 cups chicken broth
2 chicken breasts, skin on and bone in
2 Tbsp (and up to 1/4 cup) Indian curry powder
zest of 1 lime
10 oz (about 2 cups) frozen peas
fresh cracked pepper
roasted and salted pepitas
Greek yogurt (preferably 2%)
Heat your oven to 425F, drizzle the chicken breasts with a bit of olive oil, and season them liberally with salt and pepper. Bake the chicken, skin side up, until the skin is crisped and browned and the chicken is opaque all the way through, 30-35 minutes. When they are cool enough to handle, remove the skin from the breasts (you can discard it), and shred the meat into bite sized pieces using two forks. Alternately, you can shred and use any chicken you already have cooked.
In a large heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven, heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan over medium heat. Add the diced onion, and season with a good pinch of salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper. Cook until the onion is just translucent, and then add in the sweet potatoes, the whole peeled cloves of garlic, the stock, and another good pinch of salt. Turn the heat to high and bring the stock and vegetables just to a boil, and then reduce and cook at a strong simmer until the potatoes are tender, 15-20 minutes.
Carefully puree the soup in batches using a blender, or use an immersion (stick) blender if you have one – you’ll want to get the soup as silk smooth as possible. When all of the soup is pureed, add it back to the pot and turn your flame to medium/low. Stir in the curry powder (start with 2 Tbsp and increase it from there to your liking), the cooked shredded chicken, the lime zest, and the frozen peas. Heat the mixture till the peas are no longer frozen and the flavors are combined; taste and adjust salt levels (I add a good pinch of salt near the end, but season to your preference).
To serve, ladle the hot soup into bowls, and top with a spoonful of Greek yogurt and a handful of salty pepitas.