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Published October 29, 2013, 02:24 PM

Lost Italian: Creamy Comfort: Sweet potato soup gets a smokey Andouille kick

There’s an autumn chill in the air and in our home we are welcoming the return of comfort food. For us this means hearty baked pasta casseroles, pot roast with mashed potatoes, roast chicken, and soup. Lots of soup. This week we’re sharing the recipe for one of our favorite fall soups: Sweet Potato with Andouille Sausage.

By: Sarah and Tony Nasello, INFORUM

There’s an autumn chill in the air and in our home we are welcoming the return of comfort food. For us this means hearty baked pasta casseroles, pot roast with mashed potatoes, roast chicken, and soup. Lots of soup. This week we’re sharing the recipe for one of our favorite fall soups: Sweet Potato with Andouille Sausage.

Sweet potatoes are not commonly found in Sicilian cuisine and, in fact, the very first time Tony ever tasted a sweet potato was at Thanksgiving dinner with my family about eighteen years ago. My mother was preparing the classic sweet potato dish topped with marshmallows, which Tony gently poked fun at – until he tried it. He has since become a big fan of sweet potatoes.

Like its distant cousin, the potato, the sweet potato is also starch, but with increased nutritional value, and is a great source for fiber, complex carbohydrates, Vitamins A and C, iron and even calcium. This creamy, sweet root vegetable is also incredibly versatile, and can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. In our debut column last November, we featured a dessert recipe for Sweet Potato Cheesecake, and we’ve also enjoyed making sweet potato pancakes for breakfast at home.

There is a lovely autumn warmth to this vegetable, and our soup embodies that feeling in both color and flavor. The gorgeous, rich, orange tone of the sweet potato is wonderfully enhanced by the addition of fall spices such as cinnamon and cloves.

For this recipe, we also introduce Andouille Sausage, a spicy Cajun specialty with a smoky richness. We like the texture of Andouille sausage, as it is firm in body and stands up well in the soup, unlike Chorizo, which is too crumbly for this recipe. The sausage brings complexity to this simple soup, adding a wow factor that takes it from being just another good soup to one you will soon find yourself craving.

We begin the recipe by roasting the sweet potatoes in a 350-degree oven for about 45-50 minutes. Roasting concentrates the flavor and is a great way to bring out the natural sweetness of a vegetable.

To check for doneness, insert a fork or knife into the potato; if it goes all the way through with little resistance, remove the sweet potato from the oven and cool at room temperature or refrigerate until cool to the touch. If the potato isn’t quite this soft yet, keep baking at 350 and check again in five minute intervals.

When buying sweet potatoes, look for ones that are firm and free of blemishes. For this recipe, we roast ours whole, with skins on, and peel them when they’re just cool enough to handle.

Tony’s favorite tool for making soup is a hand-held immersion blender, but you can also use a liquid blender or food processor. What’s nice about the immersion blender is that you can keep everything in one pot as you puree the mixture, which makes for an easier clean-up process. We love our Kitchen Aid immersion blender, which has a removable, dishwasher-safe blade, and is often available at our local stores for about $40.

If you plan to head out into the chilly darkness tomorrow night with your little ones, treat yourself to a nice, hot bowl of Sweet Potato Soup with Andouille Sausage just before you leave to stay warm inside and out. Happy Halloween!

Home with the Lost Italian is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owns Sarello’s restaurant in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their 8-year-old son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at dine@sarellos.com. All previous recipes can be found at http://thelostitalian.areavoices.com

Sweet Potato Soup with Andouille Sausage

Serves: 6 to 8

Ingredients:

2 lbs. sweet potatoes, roasted and peeled (approx. 2 to 3 large sweet potatoes)

½ cup sliced yellow onion

4 garlic cloves

1.5 quarts chicken stock (6 cups)

4 oz. heavy cream

¼ tsp. cinnamon

Pinch of cloves

4 tbsp. unsalted butter (2 oz.)

1 ½ cups sliced Andouille sausage

Directions:

Roast the sweet potatoes in a 350-degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes, until a fork can be poked easily all the way through. Remove from oven and cool at room temperature or in the refrigerator. When cool enough to handle, use your hands to remove the peel.

In a stock pot, sauté onions and garlic in butter for five minutes, then add the chicken stock, sweet potatoes, cinnamon and cloves. Simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes. Puree the mixture using a handheld blender, liquid blender or food processor. Add the cream and sausage, and simmer over medium-low heat for an additional five minutes. Garnish with slices of Andouille, serve and enjoy.

To store: This soup can be refrigerated for up to 3-4 days or stored in your freezer for up to two months.

Tony’s Tip: Andouille sausage is a smoked meat, which means you don’t need to cook it before serving. We add it to the soup and cook for five minutes just to heat the sausage and allow the flavors to meld together. If you can’t find Andouille sausage, look for another firm-bodied, smoked meat to use as a substitute, but stay away from crumbly sausages like Chorizo for this recipe.

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