This week I started with a medium veg box original. There was one main reason for this. This is the box I will be using for my SuperClub menu on Thursday this week and I thought I could use this blog to fine-tune some of the recipes I will be cooking. I have to admit that sometimes even I struggle to constantly think up new recipes with the same veg and they are often just variations on a theme. The combination of Sweet Potato and Kale is a classic. Quite frankly, you could not eat a two ingredients which are better for you, especially during Winter. Kale is one of those veg that actually tastes good for you. It is no surprise that it is one of the most nutritionally dense foods on the planet.
But sweet potatoes are a different kettle of fish and it always amazes me is how good they are for you. You cannot believe that something that tastes so, well …. sweet, could do you any good, but they too pack a powerful nutritional punch. They have got over 400% of your daily needs for vitamin A in one medium sized sweet potato as well as loads of antioxidants vitamin C and E, beta-carotene, fibre & potassium. They have got more grams of natural sugars than regular potato but more overall nutrients with fewer calories.
The combination of the two together, the slight bitterness of the kale which counteracts the sweetness of the sweet potato is a perfect marriage and I have cooked countless hashes and soups, usually with the addition of some chorizo to add a spicy, smoky depth. But the superClubs are vegetarian so I had to think again. My first notion was a Moroccan influenced soup with smoked paprika and harissa to add a kick. But I could not make up my mind whether it should be chunky or smooth. Obviously I wouldn’t want to puree the kale and but sweet potato is great both ways.
Like the sweet potato itself, I wanted to create a soup, which maybe a little unpromising to look at, but was so delicious that you could not believe how good it was for you. So I opted for a smooth, creamy, thick soup with kale braised in garlic, which you can just stir through at the end. I hope I have succeeded.
Sweet Potato & Harissa Soup with Braised Kale and Pinenuts
You can substitute spinach or chard for the kale in this recipe. Harissa varies in heat enormously in different makes so add cautiously. You can always add more. My favourite is Rose Harissa available from Waitrose.
4 cloves garlic, 2 grated and 2 very thinly sliced
2 sweet potatoes
Couple of large handfuls of kale
Extra Virgin olive oil olive oil
1-2 tsp ground cumin
1-2 tsp smoked paprika
1-2 tsp. Harissa
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A handful of pinenuts lightly toasted in the oven
Peel the sweet potatoes, then slice them into ¼-inch thick rounds. Wash the spinach and thinly slice the leaves; reserve.
Peel and thinly slice the onions and in a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until soft. Add the grated garlic, some cumin and smoked paprika and cook a minute, stirring constantly. Add the sweet potatoes and cover with water. Add a good pinch of salt and pepper and simmer over medium-low heat for 20 to 25 minutes until sweet potatoes are completely soft. Top up with water if necessary.
Meanwhile strip the kale from its stems and put a pan of salted water on to boil. When the water is boiling, add the kale and cook for 2 minutes or so before removing the leaves with a slotted spoon. Lay out the leaves to cool on a clean, dry tea towel. When cool, use the tea towel to squeeze out any excess water and roughly chop the kale. Heat some olive oil ain a saucepan and fry the garlic slithers until light golden brown. Add the kale and a little salt. Stir well and remove from the heat. Check for seasoning.
Add a teaspoon of harissa to the soup and puree with a hand-blender. Taste and add more salt, pepper, cumin, smoked paprika or harissa to taste. Serve in bowls with a handful of kale in each bowl and the pinenuts sprinkled on top and a drizzle of olive oil.