Monday, February 21, 2011

feeling funktastic

When we were in college my friend Megan and I would talk on the phone almost every Sunday evening. Partially because it was a great time to catch up and partially because we were both prone to suffering what she coined as the Sunday blues (in distinct contrast with the Friday buzz). Sundays were often the days we had left for sorting the apartment, cramming in last minute study, and generally finishing all of the things deemed not fun enough for a Saturday. Every now and then the Sunday blues were a product of the Saturday evening regrets. Whatever had happened over the weekend it was always great to end it talking to Megan. Incidentally Megan is famous amongst our friends for coining phrases that have stuck with us for life. One of my favorite phrases came after a break up with a guy we didn't think was capable of hurting her. She looked me square in the eye and said "Zippers. Who needs them." We laughed til our sides ached and as the years went on and the break ups piled up, we always returned to that phrase as a way of reminding ourselves that boys may come and go, but good girlfriends are always there.

Luckily as we grew older, the everyday hustle and bustle of life took over. The Sunday blues became less frequent (some might say because everyday seemed more like a Sunday but that would just be too cynical), which is why it took me by surprise this past Sunday when I found myself in a funktastic mood. The reality of moving countries, combined with several weekends of saying goodbye activities had started to take its toll on me. The not knowing of the exact when or where dangled in front of me plunging me into a severe case of the Sunday Blues, not felt since the 90's! The 8 hour time difference made it impossible for me to call Megan until later so I turned to the activity that these days makes everything seem brighter: cooking.

This is one of the first soup recipes I ever tried and the first go produced a decent result. This time however, I have a bit more soup making skills under my belt and was able to adjust the recipe to make a deeply satisfying bowl of soup with just the right amount of kick.

I hope you enjoy!

Makes 6 -8

1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 medium onions, cut into a medium dice
6 cloves garlic minced
1/2 bunch celery, cut into a medium dice
2 medium carrots, cut into a medium dice
1 1/2 teaspoons ancho chili powder (I used Cayenne)
3 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
6 cups water or Vegetable Stock
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1- to 2-inch cubes
1 small dried chipotle or 1/2 canned chipotle, drained (I only had powdered and it was delicious)
1/4 cup fresh lemon or lime juice
Salt and pepper

Preheat your pan. Add the onions, garlic, celery, and carrots. When the vegetables have begun to brown, add the chili powder, ginger, and ground cumin. Cook this mixture until a heady aroma rises from the pot and vegetables are fairly soft.

Add the stock and the sweet potatoes. Cook until the sweet potatoes are very soft, just about falling apart, about 40 minutes. Taste the soup and add chipotles accordingly. Remember that the heat of the chipotle will continue to develop over the next day or so, so if you are heat-averse, be conservative at this point.

Puree the soup and return it to the pot. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. If the soup is too spicy, a bit of sugar will tone it down a little. If the soup is too mild, a little more chipotle will add some kick.

Adapted from the recipe taken from The Complete Vegan Kitchen

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