You know the Albert Camus quotation, “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer…”?
I’m searching for that invincible summer. I think it might be somewhere that I’m not. Possibly in the Southern Hemisphere. Because here in Kingston, Ontario – it’s the last desolate dregs of winter and I’m feeling pretty fed up.
This is the first year in several that I have not traveled to Mexico and I miss it terribly. I miss feeling completely warmed through. I miss the sunshine on my face and body. I miss sticking my toes in the ocean and eating nachos with Pico de gallo and fish fresh from the ocean. Ceviche. Ripe warm avocados fresh from the trees. Oaxacan string cheese. Cocktails on the beach. And smiling, singing Mexicans riding past on their bicycles.
I’m sick of the cold. Of mornings where the thermostat reads minus sixteen degrees Celsius. Of wind chill factors in the minus twenties. Of my boots and heavy coat and hat and scarves. Of the dog tracking the salt and gritty brown sand that keeps the roads and sidewalks safe, into the house. On my morning dog walk today – even though the sun was shining and the snow was white – I just could not find my invincible summer.
The one good thing about winter, is that it’s easy to spend time in the kitchen, where I can escape into cooking – into the fragrant warmth of a loaf of homemade bread, or a batch of crumb-topped banana muffins, or a pot of soup or stew. This week I made a batch of sweet potato soup and even in my misery, I have to admit – I liked it very much. This was an experiment. I usually make a curried butternut squash soup that I absolutely love. But I may just have liked this soup even more. It’s easy and fast – takes about twenty minutes in total and you can do the whole thing in one large saucepan. Plus it’s all those great things – tasty and creamy, filling, economical. Full of nutrients. And to top it all off it’s vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free. So even though I’ve yet to find my invincible summer – I did find a damn fine soup that should help me get through the last remaining tedious bits of winter, when all the glory has gone out of the beauty of falling snow.
Creamy sweet potato soup
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 onions, diced finely
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- black pepper to taste
- 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 2 cups vegetarian stock
- 1 can coconut milk
- optional diced avocado, Sriracha sauce, pesto, and coconut cream to garnish
In a large saucepan, combine the olive oil, onions, and garlic and saute for a couple of minutes. The onion does not need to be cooked and shouldn’t be browned. Add the salt, ground ginger, and black pepper. Then add the sweet potato chunks and vegetarian stock. Bring the whole thing to the boil and boil until the sweet potato is soft – about 10-14 minutes, depending on the size of your potato chunks and how high a boil you keep it at. Turn the heat off and stir in the coconut milk. At this stage you can either mash the soup with a potato masher or transfer it into your blender and pulse until the desired consistency is achieved. Serve with optional toppings in small bowls so that everyone can add what they like.
If you haven’t already discovered it – Aroy-D brand coconut milk from Thailand is amazing. You have to spoon it out of the can, almost like whipped cream. And no, they’re not paying me. They don’t even know that I exist.