Here’s one of the very first posts I wrote, one of the very first recipes and bad pictures when I first started Eat Allergy safe back in 2014. This post got deleted somehow when I completely revamped the website but I had a backup on my hard drive so I’ve decided to repost it. This lockdown has been the time to spring clean and tidy up. I’ve also realised that I have a ridiculous amount of content I’ve written, photographed, but never posted…I’m still stumped as to how and why…Enjoy the recipe, it’s pretty delicious, (and the rambling story of a much young Nina!).
January 5th-11th 2014
Sweet Potato Soup: Something hot and steamy to cure all ills
To begin again…
I am sure I am not the only person who planned to start 2015 with a flourish. I thought “a new year, a new and better me. I want to make 2015 better than 2014”. Now that I am older, I find there is such a rejuvenating anticipation and excitement about a new year. As if the slate has been wiped clean and an expectant confidence for the future quietly fuels one’s mood. The future is exciting and scary but the only way we can go is forwards, so why not make the most of it?!
2015 started well for me. I had made my new year’s resolution that I was going to get stronger and more flexible. Day 1, January 1st, I started as I had meant to go on. A leisurely 20 minute stretch and then a New Year’s Day walk up a big hill with friends. “There,” I thought, “a little bit of exercise and stretching achieved for day one”. The continuation of said resolutions, however, at least for the first week of the year was thwarted by the flu from the afternoon of day one – what a right nuisance! As I felt my body begin to ache and my temperature begin to rise, my will power ebbed away too. I blame this on the illness: no energy = no will power. I am now, two weeks into the year, regaining my will power and reclaiming my resolutions.
The best laid schemes of mice and men…
Being ill is so inconvenient and it certainly wasn’t in my plan for 2015. The worst thing about being ill is not being able to eat and being too tired to prepare food, which often means the food you’re eating may not be as nutritious as you need it to be. While thinking about thwarted plans (isn’t ‘thwarted’ such a great word! It makes a really pleasant shape of your mouth while saying it. Have a go! TH-WAR-TED. See, so fun! ☺), I realised plans which do not go as expected are usually because I have not prepared enough or because of something unexpected, like illness. Although, better care of myself in the preceding weeks would have stopped the illness…But you live and you learn.
While I was writing this post “The best laid plans of mice and men…” popped into my head, and I thought I would share it with you. This phrase is actually a mis-quote from the Robert Burns Poem To a Mouse. It’s an apology from Robert Burns to a mouse whose nest he had turned over while ploughing a field. I wanted to share it with you because I felt it was uplifting. Sometimes you might be turfed out of where you are comfortable, but you might actually have a better situation than the other person. You can’t see into the future, all you can do is go forward into it. Here are the last two verses:
But Mousie, thou are no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!
Still, thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But Och! I backward cast my e’e,
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!
(Robert Burns, To a Mouse, 1786, http://www.robertburns.org.uk/Assets/Poems_Songs/toamouse.htm)
And on I went, but not far, to the kitchen…
As soon as my brain had de-fuzzed itself, I was figuring out what I could cook that would make me and my boyfriend, who was also ill, feel better. What immediately came to mind was soup! A hot steaming bowl of soup tucked up on the sofa with a blanket and a movie. Doesn’t it sound just so warm and cosy! (Of course with lots of tissue for your runny nose and aspirin for your headache, but for a moment you can feel better.)
Store cupboards medicines…
So into the kitchen I went. I wanted ingredients that would provide health benefits as well as tasting great. Ginger and garlic have been used in Chinese and alternative medicine for decades, they have anti-inflammatory properties, good for making teas to help soother headaches and sore throats – perfect! Bone broth is coming back into fashion now, but it has always been a good for you. It contains minerals in a form your body can digest such as calcium, magnesium, it fights colds and flu, and has anti-inflammatory amino acids! How fantastic is that?! These were my base ingredients and some of the things I had lying around the kitchen. Other ingredients were chosen, partly because they were in the kitchen and because they are yummy!
I was still feeling rubbish when making this soup so I came up with this yummy and easy to prepare recipe. It also gives you time to have a sit down between operations if you are sick or just having a very long day.
I hope you enjoy!
Roasted Sweet Potato and Red Onion Soup Recipe
- 4 small red onions, cut into sixths
- 400g sweet potato, cut to roughly the same size as the onions
- Glug of olive oil
- ½ a leek, sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, diced finely
- 10g finely diced fresh ginger root
- Beef fat/duck fat/goose fat/ coconut oil/olive oil/butter
- 800ml beef stock
- 1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Cut the onions and the sweet potato then put on a baking tray. Liberally sprinkle with olive oil and stir until all the pieces are covered evenly. Now place the tray in your preheated oven. They will need to cook for 30-40mins until the onions are glistening and caramelised and the potatoes are an orangey-brown on the outside and soft on the inside.
- While the onions and sweet potato are roasting, cut the leek and dice the garlic and ginger.
- Take out a deep, heavy bottomed saucepan or stock pot and put it on the stove. Add your choice of fat to the pan and put on a medium heat. (I used beef fat because I had just slow cooked a brisket joint and some of the fat had settled at the top of the stock. No point in wasting such good quality and incredible tasting ingredient! I believe using animal fat when cooking, especially when its grass fed and free range, makes such a difference. It adds a depth to the flavour of the dish that is irreplaceable.)
- Add the chopped leek, garlic and ginger to the pan and stir until it is coated in fat.
- Turn on to a low heat and let it slowly cook until the onion and potatoes are done, stirring occasionally making sure they don’t burn.
- Now is also the time to take out your food processor and get it ready to use and measure out your beef stock.
- Once the onions and potato are cooked, take them out of the oven and put them to the side. Reserve a few of the roasted onions for decoration.
- Put your beef stock in the sauce pan and simmer gently on low.
- While the stock is simmering, put all the sweet potato and remaining onions in the food processor. Blend until a paste. I like my soup to be a bit chunky so I didn’t blend until pureed, but that’s my personal preference. You keep blending until you’re happy! You may need some liquid to help with the process. Take a few table spoons from the saucepan to help.
- Once blended to your satisfaction, add the onion and potato mix to the saucepan and mix. The stock should look more like soup now. Now stir in 1 teaspoon of wholegrain mustard and salt and pepper to taste.
Et voilà, a hearty, warming bowl of soup! May it make you feel warm and cosy!