Use Caution When Slicing a Chili Pepper with a Papercut

Just so we’re clear, I don’t mean that the papercut is cutting a chili pepper; I’m cutting it, with a knife, but it just so happens that I have a small papercut on one of my fingers. More on that later. Tonight’s meal had us singing this classic throwback. (But since I never actually knew all the words, we just ended up saying “colors of the world…spice up your life!” over and over. I know, I know, I’m a disgrace to the 90s.)

And what, pray tell, did we eat that was so spicy? Sweet potato and chorizo soup from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution (why, yes, I am on a Jamie kick this week) and chili pepper cornbread.

I threw some diced poblano into the cornbread out of necessity–it was hiding out in the fridge from a recipe last week. And I made a fairly significant adjustment to the soup, but it was awesome! The whole time while I was eating it, breathing deeply through my newly opened sinuses, I was thinking about Thanksgiving. If you’re a die-hard sweet potato eater at Thanksgiving dinner, or if you’re the Thanksgiving cook and your guests expect sweet potatoes, but you are getting tired of those little browned marshmallows on the top, this recipe would make an excellent, fiesty alternative.

Sweet Potato and Chorizo Soup (adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution)

1. Get 1.75 quarts of chicken or vegetable broth boiling away in a saucepot on the stove.

2. – 2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
– 2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
– 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
– 3 cloves garlic, chopped
– 1 3/4 pound sweet potatoes, smaller dice (I’m not very good estimating weight, but I took this to mean 2 medium-large yams)
– 3 chorizo sausages, sliced (I use Neiman Ranch pre-cooked, which are excellent and usually not too spicy)
– small handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Add all chopped ingredients to a large pot with some olive oil. Salt and pepper. Add 1 heaping teaspoon curry powder*.

*Note: I didn’t have curry powder on hand. But, as you may know, curry powder sold in the store is actually a blend of spices (kind of like chili powder). So I decided to improvise with the dry spices I did have on hand and ended up mixing together something like this: 1/2 teaspoon of each – cumin, ground mustard, crushed red pepper flakes; 1/4 teaspoon of each – ground ginger, cinnamon, paprika. I then used a heaping teaspoon of this mixture in place of “curry powder.”

3. Saute on medium high heat with the lid of the pot tilted off for about 10 minutes. Onions will be just starting to color.

4. Add the bubbling broth and bring the whole mixture up to a boil. Then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes. You’ll end up with something like this:

You’ll notice that it still looks pretty liquidy. So at this point you can pull out your handy dandy immersion blender (I picked mine up this weekend as a small birthday purchase, but you could also – carefully – use a standard blender, just don’t fill it up all the way before blending), and go to town.

The sweet potatoes and the sausages will dissolve into liquid form, thickening the whole soup to a beautiful harvest orange color.

I really wish you could taste this. My mouth is watering just writing to you about it. And I usually don’t have any salivary reaction to things like watching food on TV.

I opted for a simple garnish of finely diced poblanos, crisped bacon, and chopped parsley. I found this useful for highlighting some of the flavors in the soup and to add a bit of texture to the now-velvety soup. Plus Alex loved having extra bacon lying around. Even I was snacking on it while I waited for the soup.

Don’t let the orange color fool you! If, like me, you are not the biggest fan of butternut squash soup or even pumpkin soup, don’t just shrug this soup off. I promise it is only slightly sweet; the sweet potato flavor definitely comes through and blends so interestingly, nay, deliciously with the spicy chorizo. I’m curious now to see how else I can combine sweet potatoes and chorizo.

So back to my story from the beginning of the post. It appears I had a slight papercut on the pad of one of my fingers. But I didn’t discover this until after I had chopped the poblano pepper and noticed my finger stinging. Even for mild chilis like poblanos, the chili oil is strong. Last summer I grew some poblanos of my own, and somehow their heat was even more intense than the poblanos I bought at the store. After chopping those homegrowns, I washed my hands, but  even after a good scrub, I somehow managed to run my hand across my eyes, nostrils, lips, and teeth in one swoop. I know that I must have done this because I was suddenly in so much facial pain that it was almost comical. I was teaching  8th grade at the time, and my students and I had a good laugh when I had to explain to them why I was wearing glasses instead of contact lenses the next day.

I digress. Are you inspired to try this recipe yet? Sweet potatoes will be around all winter, so be sure to add this to your list of things to try – whether for the holidays, for snow days, or when you find yourself with an abundance of sweet potatoes or yams. I’ll definitely be making this again – with the Spice Girls on repeat. Maybe by the end of winter I’ll finally know all the words.

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4 thoughts on “Use Caution When Slicing a Chili Pepper with a Papercut

  1. ben says:

    hi this is ben from the gym and that looks delicious tell me how to cook like a pro

  2. […] soups, it’s not like I haven’t made soup before. Indeed, last winter introduced me to sweet-potato chorizo soup, potato-leek soup, crab and corn chowder, mushroom-barley soup, and even oyakodon. There’s […]

  3. […] I promised myself I would remember to re-post this recipe in time for Thanksgiving this year, so here it is. (Read the original post here). […]

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