A delicious and nourishing soup, compliments of my dear friend Josie from Portugal. The sweet potatoes and carrots give it a creamy texture so no milk is needed! As with any recipe I receive from Europe, I had to adjust the instructions for clear measurements and cooking directions.
It is garnished with broccoli, roasted pine nuts and a cream made from roasted beets and garlic - decorating techniques I learned during my internship at the James Beard House in NYC.
A comfort soup with many powerful health benefits:
Sweet Potatoes are rich in vitamin A and are a great source of fiber, vitamin C and various B vitamins. They also contain minerals, potassium, manganese, magnesium, and copper and have a good amount of protein. The orange color is from beta-carotene, which is a pigment and antioxidant. Studies have shown that sweet potatoes are not only great for eye health and vision, but they have also been linked to improved digestive health, heart health, and boosting the immune system. Although they are considered a starchy vegetable, they are low on the glycemic index and promote regulation of blood sugar.
Onions are nutrient dense and part of the Allium family of plants, which also includes chives, garlic, and leeks. They are a good source of vitamin C, B6 and manganese. They also contain small amounts of calcium, iron, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and antioxidants, quercetin and sulfur. Research has shown that onions provide potential health benefits that may reduce the risk of several cancers. As a good source of vitamin C, it has also been linked to supporting skin and hair. Quercetin, found on onion skin, is linked to lowering blood pressure.
Garlic has antibacterial, antiviral, and anti fungal properties, all of which help boost the immune system. It has been used as a remedy to fight the common cold and flu. Garlic has been used for thousands of years, not just as an ingredient to add flavor to a dish, but also for medicinal purposes. While growing up in Italy, I remember my grandparents and parents using raw garlic as a medicinal agent for numerous therapeutic uses, which we still use today. The list is extensive but typically they used it for digestive issues; the common flu and cold, whatever their origin (viral or bacterial); for skin problems such as small wounds and cuts and gingivitis (infection of gums caused by a bacterium); for protecting the liver against various toxic substances; and, it was used to help the body strengthen the immune system. They also used garlic for constipation as it has laxative properties. Thanks to its wealth of antioxidants (allicin, flavonoids, vitamins E and C, minerals, and others), garlic helps fight the harmful effects of free radicals. In our family, garlic is a real elixir!
Tomatoes have many beneficial properties and are a good source of several vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, A, K, folate, potassium, and antioxidant, lycopene, which is responsible for the red color. Lycopene, which is mainly contained in the peel, has been linked to many health benefits including reducing risk of heart disease and some cancers. It is also eye protective. Tomatoes are mostly made up of water and are low in fat and calories.
Carrots are a gift of nature rich in many nutritional properties useful for your body. They are the most widely available sources of beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the body, a powerful antioxidant. There is an impressive amount of research and cancer-prevention studies of beta carotene. Carrots are also a good sources of fiber, vitamin K1, potassium, are a modest source of vitamin C when raw, and are virtually fat free. Your body needs fat to absorb beta carotene, so the addition of a healthy fat when preparing carrots not only enhances their taste, but their nutritional function as well.
Broccoli are rich in fiber and help support healthy intestinal function and digestive health. Thanks to the presence of dietary fiber, they also help to maintain a sense of satiety. It is part of the cruciferous family and is considered a superfood. Broccoli is full of vitamins C, A, K, and folate, and minerals, potassium, phosphorus and selenium. It has high levels of a compound called glucoraphanin that is converted into a potent antioxidant called sulforaphane. Studies have shown that sulforaphane may have multiple health benefits such as, reducing blood sugar, cholesterol levels, oxidative stress, and the development of chronic disease. Broccoli also contains antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been shown to be eye protective.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is known as “liquid gold” but my family and I call it “magical.” Olive trees go far back before biblical times, with their legendary reputation. Italians consider the olive tree as almost holy, evoking feelings of vitality and health. The first evidence of the use of oil dates back to 4000 BC when it was used as an ointment for the skin, for lamp lights, and taken as a medicine. Olive oil is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats and has large amounts of antioxidants. Research has shown olive oil to have strong anti-inflammatory properties. Studies show that monounsaturated fats also help improve cardiovascular health, cut cholesterol, and reduce blood pressure.
Josie's Comfort Soup Recipe
Gluten Free, Vegetarian, Vegan, Dairy Free
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
2 large sweet potatoes (can sub with butternut squash)
1 small onion
2 large ripe red tomatoes
16 oz organic baby carrots
2 broccoli heads
6 - 8 garlic cloves
1/4 cup Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut sweet potatoes, onions, tomatoes, carrots, and broccoli into small uniform sizes (about a 1/2 inch dice). Peel garlic and leave whole.
In a large heavy-bottom pot, add potatoes, onions, tomatoes, carrots and garlic and fill with cold water, covering contents 1 to 2 inches. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for another 8 to 10 minutes or until sweet potatoes are fork tender. Add broccoli and cook for another 5 minutes or until broccoli is tender. Add 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper to the pot and stir.
Turn off the heat and let the soup sit for 10 minutes.
Transfer everything to a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. You may need to do this in batches. Add water if too thick.
Return the soup to the pot and cook on medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt to taste.
Feel free to add ginger - I added a 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, chopped.
You can also add 1 cup of fresh spinach, chopped, after the last step. Remove from heat, add spinach and serve hot. You can substitute with broccoli rabe or any other green of your choice.
You can add cauliflower or use it as a substitute for broccoli.
I have also caramelized the onions and added them as a garnish instead of cooking them with the other vegetables.
Garnish as you desire.