Sweet Potato Miso Soup
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The moment we turn back our clocks, we crave nothing more than to slurp a massive bowl of soul-soothing soup from the comfort of our couch. This decidedly seasonal sweet potato miso soup from Jason Hammel’s The Lula Cafe Cookbook is just the ticket.
“Miso is one of our favorite ingredients to add to the base of puréed soups, like this wintry sweet potato and apple bisque,” explains Hammel. “Unlike the soup served in Japanese restaurants, the miso here is not stirred in at the end. Instead, we let it caramelize in browning butter, where it develops deep nutty aromas and makes everything a stronger, darker, deeper, almost moody version of itself.”
You could certainly substitute store-bought vegetable stock to save yourself some time and effort. On the other hand, the homemade stock below is bursting at the seams with umami, thanks to kombu and dried mushrooms. The choice is yours, friend.
Excerpted from The Lula Cafe Cookbook © 2023 by Jason Hammel. Photography © 2023 by Carolina Rodríguez. Reproduced by permission of Phaidon. All rights reserved.
2 medium onions, unpeeled, halved through root
1 tablespoon oil
1 medium carrot, unpeeled, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 head garlic, halved
1 leek top
½ head fennel, chopped
1 bay leaf
½ cup dried mushrooms
2 parsley sprigs
1 thyme sprig
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
Two 4-by-4-inch pieces kombu
Sweet Potato Miso Soup
4 tablespoons high-fat, cultured butter
8½ ounces onion, sliced
6 ounces apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 cup mushroom stems
⅛ cup red miso
¼ teaspoon dark chili powder
¼ teaspoon black peppercorns
Scant 1 cup brut cider
8 cups vegetable stock
1 pound and 15 ounces sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Scant 1 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt, to taste
2 large lobster mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup toasted pecans
Olive oil, for drizzling
1. Make the Vegetable Stock: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Toss the onions in the oil, then place them on a baking sheet in the oven for 30 minutes, or until slightly caramelized around the edges.
2. In a stockpot, place the onions, carrot, celery, garlic, leek, fennel, bay leaf and dried mushrooms with 16 cups cold, filtered water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour.
3. Add the parsley, thyme, black pepper and kombu. Remove from the heat and steep for 30 minutes. Strain and cool.
4. Make the Soup: Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium heat. As soon as it foams, add the onions and apples. Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until lightly caramelized, then add the mushroom stems, red miso, chili powder and peppercorns. Let the mixture sizzle in the butter for about 3 to 5 minutes, until deeply golden and caramelized. (You want it to brown without burning, so control the heat accordingly.)
5. Add the cider to deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape up the browned bits. Simmer for about 3 minutes to cook off the alcohol, then add the vegetable stock and sweet potatoes. Simmer for 1 hour, until the potatoes are completely mushy. Add the cider vinegar and Worcestershire sauce.
6. Working in batches, blend the soup in a blender on the highest speed, letting it spin for 15 to 20 seconds per batch. You want a smooth, velvety texture. Stir in the cream, season to taste with salt and if it seems too thick, add a little water.
7. Make the Roasted Mushrooms: Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a small mixing bowl, combine the mushrooms, melted butter and salt. Place them a small baking tray or sauté pan in the oven and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until tender but still firm. Cool, then slice.
8. Preheat four soup bowls. Gently reheat the soup in a pot over medium-low heat, if needed. Ladle the soup into the bowls. Add the sliced roasted mushrooms atop the soup. Grate the pecans on top and finish with a drizzle of olive oil.