Sweet potato and andouille soup

This is not my creation; what follows is simply a homemade interpretation of an offering at Eat, a favorite restaurant in New Orleans. Humble sweet potato is the star here, with spicy andouille (a smoked pork sausage) and a creole-style mirepoix contrasting with the lush sweetness of the potato.

Serve as a palate-awakening first course for a cool weather dinner party or consume generous bowlfuls with gusto from the comfort of your couch. White dishes particularly show off its deep eggyolk yellow hue. A sprinkling of torn or chopped cilantro leaves contributes a pleasant fresh flavor, as would flat-leaf parsley, and even mundane sliced green onion would add some welcome color. Crunchy accoutrements are encouraged.

To a heavy bottomed soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add

8 oz. andouille sausage, casings removed and diced.

Let the sausage brown and render. When it’s cooked, remove to a bowl, leaving the fat in the pot. Add to the cooking vessel and saute until tender

1 yellow onion, diced

1 large red (or 1 small green and 1 small red) bell pepper, diced

(1 stalk celery, diced)

1 tsp. salt

(a few teaspoons of vegetable oil or bacon grease, if the sausage doesn’t give off much fat).

    When the vegetables are tender and translucent, stir in

    1 tsp. ground black pepper
    2 tsp. dried thyme, crumbled
    2 tsp. dried oregano, crumbled
    (1/2 to 1 tsp. ground or crumbled dry red chile)
    1 tbsp. granulated garlic

      Stir-fry to infuse the herbs and spices into the cooking oil. After a minute or two when everything smells lovely, to the pot add 

      5 to 6 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed.

      Stir to combine, then pour in just enough water to cover the solids and bring to a boil. Once the pot is boiling, stir in the reserved sausage and reduce the heat so the liquid maintains only a simmer. As the potatoes break down, the soup thickens and boils more readily; be sure to monitor the flame.

      After fifteen or twenty minutes, when the potatoes are tender, use an immersion blender (or other favorite tool) to make a slightly lumpy puree. 

      Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed with more salt, ground chile, or garlic powder, and continue to simmer until the potatoes have nearly disintegrated and the soup has a creamy texture.

      If at this point you want to temper any spiciness in the soup, turn the heat to low and stir in 

      1/4 to 1/2 cup of heavy cream, half and half, or plain yogurt

      transforming this simple “soup” into a “bisque.”

        Sweet potato and andouille soup