Chef Dez: comfort bisque to warm your soul

Fat Free Sweet Potato Bisque is the perfect way to pacify our fall food desires

The autumn season brings cooler weather and the rainbow of transforming leaves welcome us every time we step outside our door.

It also earmarks the beginning of how our vision of food and celebration starts to change. With the dog days of summer behind us, we are no longer as worried about our bathing suit images, and the calendar lineup of commemorations is welcoming us with open arms. For many, this means indulgences in comfort foods to warm the soul, satisfy our hunger, and highlight the gatherings of family, friends and loved ones.

Eating is a huge part of the social aspect of our lives, but this does not always have to signify a complete abandonment of healthy choices. There are many ways to pacify our desires with foods that are still very nutritious, without leaving us feeling void of pampered appetites.

This Fat Free Sweet Potato Bisque is the perfect fall recipe to accomplish this in your kitchen. Sweet potatoes are loaded with beta carotene (recognizable from their orange colour) and are high in vitamins A and C. Their moist sweet texture is ideal for mimicking richness, when in fact there is no added fat in this recipe whatsoever.

Many are confused by the differences between sweet potatoes and yams, and this is due to the misinterpretation of the North American grocery industry. Sweet potatoes have orange coloured flesh, while yams are starchier, less flavourful, and have whiter paler flesh. The names here are usually mismatched with each other, but in Europe, for example, the names are assigned accurately.

Although this soup is great served by itself, it is a remarkable first course to introduce traditional holiday flavours of stuffed turkey, cranberries, and all the trimmings. The addition of nutmeg and cloves gives it a warm earthiness and highlights the incredible natural flavour the sweet potato has to offer. The elegance of the presentation is heightened when beautifully garnished with swirls of sour cream and a sparse scattering of freshly chopped parsley. With the autumn air surrounding us, this soup will help to soothe our cravings of comfort food while helping us watch our waistlines… at least with the first course.

For the record however, this is not a “bisque” by definition – as that would mean it has cream in it, which it doesn’t since it is fat free. It just sounds fancier than Yam Soup.

Fat Free Sweet Potato Bisque

Makes approximately 6 portions as a first course

  • 1kg orange sweet potato, peeled, diced 1cm
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 3 1/2 (three and one half) cups skim milk

For Garnish:

  • 1/4 cup no-fat sour cream
  • 1 tbsp skim milk
  • fresh parsley, finely chopped

In a steamer in a large pot, steam the diced sweet potato over boiling water for 20 minutes until fully cooked and tender. Discard the water, and place the cooked sweet potato back into the pot, off the heat.

Add the brown sugar, salt, nutmeg, cloves, and white pepper to the sweet potato and combine thoroughly with a potato masher, ensuring no lumps.

Once fully mashed, start adding 1 ½ (one and one half) cups of the skim milk slowly while continuing to mash with the potato masher. Switch to a whisk, turn the heat to medium, and blend in the remaining 2 cups of skim milk, mixing thoroughly.

Stir occasionally over medium heat until completely heated through. Taste and adjust the seasonings of salt and pepper, if necessary.

While soup is heating, combine the sour cream with the tablespoon of milk.

Portion the soup into bowls and drizzle small amounts of the sour cream mixture on each portion. Drag a toothpick back and forth across the surface to create a beautiful design.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve immediately.

Chef Dez is a Chef, Writer, & Host. Visit him at www.chefdez.com

Write to him at dez@chefdez.com or P.O. Box 2674, Abbotsford, BC V2T 6R4

Next “Chef Dez on Cooking” column will appear approximately December 14/18

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