Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sweet Potato and Rosemary Soup with Apple and Cheese Biscuits

Earlier this week, I was looking at some of the produce in my kitchen and there was an overabundance of sweet potatoes.  Hmmm... What to do with them?  Something new and different.  Poking around on the interwebs, I found this recipe on The Food Network, from Giada De Laurentis - Creamy Sweet Potato and Rosemary Soup.  It had a short list of ingredients, and was simple - all the makings of something tasty that really allows the ingredients shine.  Perfect.

You might have picked up on my recent obsession with biscuits.  But, is that really such a bad thing?  I think not!  Bring on the flaky, buttery goodness!  I do really enjoy a biscuit with my soup (if you hadn't noticed), so that was a natural pairing.  But I wanted to add something for a flavor to compliment the soup.  Hmmm... I really liked the local Beecher's Cheese I added last time.  What else though?  Apple!  It always pairs well with sweet potatoes.  I wasn't sure if the apple would affect the leavening or flakiness at all, but I was curious to try this idea out.  I did some research for any existing recipes, but didn't find any like I had imagined.  Great chance to test my hypothesis of awesomeness, and I'm pleased to report that it turned out well.  All the flavors in the biscuit are extremely subtle and just give you a hint and a pleasing aftertaste, but don't overwhelm the buttery and flaky biscuit.

All in all, an easy and tasty meal.  There was only one slight mishap involving the pureeing of the soup... (or user error, if you will.)  I don't yet have an immersion blender in my kitchen, so I had to utilize a regular blender.  I ladled in a small batch in the blender and it blended with no problem, and then I poured it out into another large bowl.  I ladled in a bit more this time, and pressed the button - bam!  The boyfriend and kitties came to investigate the noise and found me cursing and orange goop splattered everywhere.  Oops.  Learning experience!  (Or more motivation to get an immersion blender)

Despite my little lesson, the soup and biscuits turned out beautifully and I adore the flavors.  This will definitely be on my soup standards list!

Creamy Sweet Potato and Rosemary Soup
(from Giada De Laurentis - Food Network)
4-6 servings (1.5-2 cup serving size)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 large or 6 small shallots, thinly sliced
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds (about 2 to 3) sweet potatoes, peeled, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 (6-inch long) stems fresh rosemary
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
3 tablespoons maple syrup

Edit 2/9/14: To make it really easy, peel the sweet potatoes and then shred them in your food processor.  It's fast, easy, and cooks quicker!

In an 8-quart stockpot, melt the butter and oil together over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook until soft, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, rosemary and chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the sweet potatoes are very tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Turn off the heat and remove the rosemary stems (leave the leaves). Using an immersion blender, blend the mixture until smooth and thick. If you don't have an immersion blender, you may puree it by ladling, in small batches, into a food processor or blender.  If using this method, be careful with the hot liquid in the blender as the top may blast off!

Whisk in the mascarpone cheese and maple syrup until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Keep the soup warm over low heat until ready to serve.

Apple and Cheese Biscuits
(adapted from Cook's Country)
~12 biscuits

8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 Tbsp lard (or shortening)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 apple, peeled, and grated
lemon juice
1/2 cup grated Beecher's (or cheddar, or other cheese of choice)
1 1/4 cups buttermilk OR substitute (Stir 1 Tbsp + 3/4 tsp lemon juice or white vinegar into 1 1/4 cups milk. Let stand at room temp for 10 minutes until thickened)

Cut butter and lard into 1/2 inch pieces and refrigerate until chilled.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Whisk dry ingredients in large bowl.  Peel apple and grate (on large whole box grater) into a bowl.  Sprinkle with lemon juice, to prevent browning.  Then drain apples in fine-mesh strainer/sieve set over bowl.  Press liquid from the apples, to avoid soggy biscuits!

Cut in chilled butter and lard with pastry cutter until the mixture is coarse and butter is the size of small peas.  Stir in grated apple and grated cheese.

Stir in buttermilk until just combined.  Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead briefly, 8 - 10 times, to form a smooth cohesive ball.  Cover with plastic wrap (or wax paper or parchment paper) and roll to 3/4 inch thick.  Using biscuit (or cookie) cutter dipped in flour, cut out shapes and arrange upside down on prepared baking sheet.  Gently gather scraps and re-roll to 3/4 inch thick to cut remaining biscuits and place on baking sheet.

Bake until biscuits begin to rise, about 5 minutes, then rotate pan and reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees.  Baking until golden brown, 10 - 12 minutes more.  Transfer to wire rack and let cool 5 minutes.


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