Friday, December 6, 2013

Chicken & Sweet Potato Cream Soup

Broken but not beaten. That is the underlying theme to this recipe post of Chicken & Sweet Potato Cream Soup. It's a 2-fer blogpost: how to fix a "broken" cream sauce, plus a delicious recipe!

When you cook with cream, it can break apart (or curdle) into tiny cottage cheese-like flakes floating on an off white liquid. It usually happens when you boil cream or add something acidic like wine, tomatoes and lemon juice. It doesn't happen all the time.

Well, here's how to minimize the problem. Just whisk in a little cream and it will disguise the problem. When cream breaks it doesn't effect the taste, just the texture. While this technique is not perfect, you'll still see some small curds, but the cream consistency is back.

Now that you know how to fix cream or half and half that "breaks" while cooking, let's get to my recipe of Chicken & Sweet Potato Cream Soup.

Cream as a main ingredient satisfies all appetites. And chicken with sweet potatoes are a match made in culinary heaven. It's all slow cooked until the flavors  mingle for a soul satisfying winter day hot meal. All you are doing is cooking until the sweet potato cubes are fork tender, when that happens the chicken will be done as well. 

This recipe can be tweaked to your satisfaction. Try adding some chunky carrots and a little musty crushed garlic. Make the meal more filling by pouring the soup over some cooked brown rice, pasta or couscous.

I don't cook sweet potatoes and yams enough, so I'm always looking for recipes that use them. And during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays is when they are cheapest. And you know how I enjoy cooking with cut-rate poultry.

This recipe is adaptable for cooking in a crock pot or stove top pot. I provide directions below for both.

  • 2 leg quarters or whole chicken breast - or any favorite cuts of chicken. About 1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken when cubed. You can cook with cubed chicken or whole pieces. If using whole pieces then break apart before serving - optional of course, serve the chicken any way you like.
  • 1 to 2 whole sweet potatoes or yams - this recipe is adaptable. Make it with a lot of sweet potato or not. You can substitute with carrots, or go half and half.
  • 1 large chopped onion - or a couple small ones.
  • 1 cup of cream or half and half - okay to make the dish lighter and use regular milk.
  • 4 cup of chicken broth - or any vegetable broth. Okay to use a couple of bouillon cubes with 4 cups of water. (If you are using chicken cubes then leave out salt as they have plenty.)
  • 1 teaspoon oil - for sauteing onion.
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch or flour - optional. Mixed in a 1/4 cup of water. add to thicken soup.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • An extra half cup of cream if soup "breaks."

I am using a crock pot for this recipe so the cooking time is about 6 hours. If you use a stove top covered pot, then simmer about 2 hours uncovered, or until sweet potatoes are fork tender.

Start by peeling and cutting sweet potatoes into 1 inch cubes - cubes don't have to be exact size. You get about 3 cups. Okay to add another cup or two.

Peel and roughly chop one whole onion. Saute onion in a pan with 1 teaspoon of oil. Cook a couple of minutes until soft.

I used 4 boneless and skinless chicken thighs, chopped into 1 inch pieces. You can use any favorite cuts of chicken, whole or in pieces, with or without skin. It's up to you. And you can cook them whole and shred the meat off the bones just before serving.

Add all the ingredients in a crock pot. Pour in 1 cup of cream or half and half (or milk.) Add 4 cups of broth (or 2 bouillon cubes with 4 cups of water.) Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stir lightly to mix cream and broth. For crock pot cooking, slow cook for about 6-8 hours - until sweet potatoes are easily pierced with a fork. During the last hour you can add thickener of a tablespoon of cornstarch (or flour) mixed into a 1/4 cup of water.

*For a stove top version add all ingredient, plus broth and cream, to a large pot. Bring soup to low simmer. Cook uncovered until sweet potatoes are fork tender - about an hour and a half, to two hours. I like to cook the soup uncovered so the liquid reduces by a third and thickens. Should too much liquid evaporate, then add more broth or cream as needed. 

If you want to thicken even more, then can add a tablespoon of cornstarch (or flour) mixed into a 1/4 cup of water. Stir and continue heating for another 5-10 minutes until thicker.

And remember if the cream "breaks" whisk in a 1/2 cup of cream during the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Serve in a bowl with your favorite crusty bread.

You can use any potatoes you have on hand for this recipe. I used one large sweet potato. Sweet potatoes and yams sizes greatly vary. Depending on the size you will get 2 to 4 cups when cubed.

Carrots are a tasty addition. I've made the recipe with half carrots and sweet potatoes.

You can add as much chicken as you like, white and/or dark meat. Okay to substitute with turkey pieces (leftovers included,) like a large leg or breast.

It's okay to put off adding cream until the last hour of crock pot cooking, to decrease "breaking." For stove top cooking add cream during the last 15 minutes to heat it through.

For a bit more heft to your meal serve Chicken & Sweet Potato in Cream Soup over cooked rice, couscous, or most any type of pasta.

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