Sweet Potato, Apple, and Toasted Pecan Soup

As if the brisk fall breeze wasn’t enough, all the tempting recipes I’m seeing on Pinterest and in my RSS feed have me seriously craving hot soup. We kicked off soup season with a recipe inspired by this roasted pecan and acorn squash soup and this pumpkin, squash, and apple bisque. Adding toasted pecans and apples to pureed soup are both delicious ideas, and adding them both to this sweet potato soup elevated to entertaining-worthy. Feel free to use whatever apples you like, but I loved the sweetness and mild tartness of the Honeycrisps I used. The sweet potatoes add another sweet dimension and velvety texture. Sage-infused brown butter and toasted pecans bring rich, nuttiness, while nutmeg and allspice bring warmth to the dish. The fried sage and toasted pecan garnish are the perfect finishing touch – crunchy and punchy.

Sweet Potato, Apple, and Toasted Pecan Soup

Ingredients:
2 large sweet potatoes
3 medium apples, halved, seeds and core scooped out
2 medium shallots, peeled and quartered
1 1/2 c pecans
6 c chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
4 Tbsp. butter
12 sage leaves
Pinch of salt

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Add the sweet potatoes and apples (cut side down) to a baking sheet. Toss the shallots with a glug of olive oil and place them in a corner of the baking sheet. Each item will take a different amount of time to cook: Remove the apples once they are tender and beginning to release juices; remove the shallots when they are softened and starting to char on the edges; remove the sweet potatoes when they are very soft all the way through, 45-60 minutes. As each ingredient is ready, move it to a blender.

2. Meanwhile, place the pecans in a medium skillet over medium heat, and stir often until fragrant and toasted, 5-10 minutes, then move all but 12 pecans (reserved for garnish) to the blender.

3. Meanwhile, bring the stock to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add about 1 cup of the stock to the blender. Blend the cooked apples, shallots, sweet potatoes, pecan, and cup of stock on high speed until smooth, then add the mixture to the rest of the stock and stir until smooth. (If you have a handheld immersion blender you can skip the blender and add all ingredients to the large pot, then blend until smooth.)

4. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Once hot and foaming, add the sage leaves and fry until bright green, about 1 minute. Use a fork to remove the sage leaves to a plate and immediately sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Let the butter continue cooking until it begins to brown, then pour the sage-infused brown butter into the soup and stir until smooth.

5. Divide the soup among four large bowls and garnish with the fried sage leaves and reserved pecans. Serve warm.

Serves 4

Elizabeth’s Wine Pairing: 

Riesling Feinherb “Alte Reben,” Später-Veit  2011

Mmmm, Fall is in the air. With spicy sweet potatoes, elevated with a crisp tart apple, highlighting earthy, sweet tangy flavors, I would reach for an off-dry Riesling with weight and acidity to complement the brisk fall flavors in this soup. The Riesling Feinherb “Alte Reben,” Später-Veit is an ideal choice as it will allow the soup to be the star, playing a friendly counterpoint to all the fun flavors in this soup, even standing up well to the toasty pecans. A little time in bottle has softened this wine around the edges; it can stand on its own with its level of complexity. The zip of acidity also means that this Riesling is a great opening to a multi-course dinner.