Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sweet Potato Soup and Swiss Chard on Toast

Friday was such a grey, gloomy day that I had to go into our friendly neighbourhood market, Mariposa!
Just look at the sweet faces of Steve and Cait (owners) ready to greet their customers, usually by name!

This market is one of the reasons I love St. Margaret's Bay  - a  neighbourly natural foods store where you can buy local organic produce and products,  free range meats , breads and nutritional supplements... chit chat and catch up with community goings on from the many notices on their bulletin board. And there is lots going on!! If only one could take it all in!

Being a cold, wet day I decided to pick up some ingredients to make a soup and side.
So out comes the lovely soup pot again and the menu is: Sweet Potato Peanut Soup and Swiss Chard on Olive Bread Toast.

Sweet Potato Peanut Soup
As with most soups, I started with a glug of olive oil (as Jamie Oliver says) in my most beautiful soup pot and heated this over medium heat, then added 1 chopped onion and several minced cloves of garlic and sauteed them for a few minutes.

 Here is a tip: I heard somewhere from someone that lighting a candle while you chop onions will prevent the tears associated with the task. So, I tried it for the first time. It worked! Plus.... it created a romantic ambiance - just me and my onion!

Then I added 2 peeled, chopped sweet potatoes, a little ground salt and 2 tsp smoked paprika. I was dying to use this spice since I had read about it on Smitten Kitchen.

 3-Pack Smoked Paprika by La Tienda
This mixture was stirred and the heat was turned up to medium high -  4-5 cups of vegetable broth or water was added and I also added about 1/2 cup of rinsed, dried red lentils to increase the protein of the meal. It was stirred occasionally until the sweet potatoes were softened. 

When the sweet potato softened, I took my potato masher and mashed the soup a little to make a homogeneous, chunky blend. Then the fun part, the 1/2 cup of smooth peanut butter, heated and swirled until the peanut butter was thoroughly blended.
Meanwhile, back at the other counter.......

Swiss Chard on Olive Bread Toast

What a great bunch, huh?! And available locally all year long! I have to admit, up until about two years ago, I pretty much avoided these humongous bunches of greens....maybe a little intimidated by their size! Anyway, I started experimenting with them more over this past year and how I love them now! If you are intimidated by huge bunches of leaves...then...read on!

There is a technique to chopping them up and I feel really smart when I do this in front of friends:
After washing the chard, you fold the leaf over and cut off the rib that runs up the back of the leaf.
DO NOT DISCARD THE RIBS - sorry , I don't mean to yell, but I think I saw you reaching for the compost pail.
Then roll the leaf up like a ....like a ...hmmm...like a sleeping bag and cut the leaves into ribbons.
Then, you can cut up the ribs into ~2 inch pieces. They are cut separately, because they will be cooked for different lengths of time as the ribs (stems) take longer to cook.

To cook the Swiss Chard, I added a glug of olive oil to a shallow saucepan, once this was heated, a couple of minced cloves of garlic were added and stirred for a minute, then the rib (stem) pieces of the chard went into the pan. When these were crisp tender, I added about 1 cup of leaves at a time, stirring and letting them wilt before adding the next cup. When all was wilted, I had the olive bread sliced, brushed with olive oil and broiling in the oven. added scoops of the chard to the top and voila!!

Oh no....not another meatless meal?!

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