I’m equally sad and excited when Fall rolls around. Fortunately I love to cook, which keeps the cold weather blues at bay. I love summer, our weekend trips to the lake complete with an endless supply of popsicles and watersports.
But something about turning on the stove and simmering soups, stocks, and stews for hours on end is so comforting. I love the smell of Fall cooking. The earthy vegetables, the slow-roasted meats. It’s a smell that permeates your house, and makes it feel like home.
It’s a completely different kind of cooking from the meals I tend to make in the summer. And especially this summer – I was on a huge raw kick – tomato salads of every kind (see my tomato concern from this week’s Wordless Wednesday post), diced fruit with honey and mint, and raw vegetables marinated in olive oil, vinegar and herbs.
But I’m ready to re-embrace my stove.
People tend to gripe about Fall cooking. They say it’s less healthy, full of butter and bacon. And it takes time. Which is often true.
But it doesn’t have to be. Especially the part about it taking time – I’ll keep my rich Fall dishes, thank you very much. There are over 200 days until I wear a bikini again, and I’m fine with putting a little meat on my bones.
If you think ahead, and prep the night before, many of your Fall dishes can actually be ready in the same amount of time as it would take you to pull together a simple summer salad. And I don’t mean serious prep the night before – I’m talking about chucking something in your stove and forgetting about it for an hour or two while you go about your evening.
This sweet potato soup is a great example. The night before I made it, I heated the oven, pricked 4 large sweet potatoes with a fork, and tossed them in the oven while I was helping my kids get ready for bed.
What’s great about things like squash, sweet potatoes, or anything you wrap in foil – like beets – is that you can cook them longer than you’re supposed to without consequence. No racing to the stove only to find the charred remains of your farm-fresh organic vegetables.
Trust me, that still happens to me on occasion – I get distracted, like all parents. One kid might be making an ice cream swirl on the bathroom counter with a tube of toothpaste while another has found the scissors and is sawing off Barbie’s hair. The third is a little more predictable, preferring to launch herself repeatedly from the couch to the beanbag chair.
Distraction is a part of life.
So if you’ve set a timer to tell you that the food is done and you’re still herding your children to bed, finishing up a conference call, or sneaking in your post-run sit-up routine (whoever you are), no need to panic. Your veg can easily hang out for another 20–30 minutes without any issues.
All that’s left to do is cool them, slip off the skins, and stash them in the fridge for the next day.
Other than saving time, the great thing about pre-roasting is that because it concentrates the flavor of your food, you only need a few additional ingredients to make your meal really sing.
For this soup, those ingredients are a sautéed onion, coconut milk, vegetable stock, and smoked paprika. That’s it. 5 ingredients and it tastes like something you’d get at a 5-start restaurant. Bad analogy actually. I hate fussy, pretentious food. But you get the drift…
Did I tell you it’s vegan too? Not that we’re vegan. I felt that needed clarification given my obsession with bacon. But I like healthy food too, you guys know that by now. Right? Good.
So snap into Fall everyone. Break out those pots and pans, it’s time to get cooking again. I’ll have lots of healthy, fun Fall recipes coming your way, so stay tuned.
- 4 medium-large sweet potatoes
- 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 Medium onion, diced
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1 can coconut milk
- 3 Tablespoons smoked paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cilantro or toasted pumpkin seeds (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350
- Prick the sweet potatoes several times with a fork and put them in the oven for about an hour, until soft.
- Cool them, then scoop out the flesh & reserve in the fridge.
- Preheat a soup pot on medium-high heat and add the olive oil.
- Sauté the onion in the oil until soft.
- Add the potato flesh and the smoked paprika, and sautee for a minute to combine the flavors.
- Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil, then simmer for a few minutes. Skim the thick cream off the top of a can of coconut milk & add to the soup, leaving a Tablespoon or two in the can for the garnish.
- Puree either with a hand immersion blender, or just by whisking & adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Serve in bowls, garnished with a little more of the coconut cream and dust with some more smoked paprika.
- Top with a sprig of cilantro for color or a few pumpkin seeds.