I was thrilled when my friend Cathy of What Would Cathy Eat invited me to participate in her Healthy Thanksgiving Challenge! Cathy’s challenge is all about making an amazingly delicious Thanksgiving feast, without a lot of fat and salt.
I did it! Well, not the whole feast, but a delicious first course of Apple Yam Soup with Shallot “Croutons!” You heard me. . . croutons! And this soup is incredibly healthy through and through. You’ll see how the ingredients and the simple cooking process bring a ton of delicious flavor and a beautiful texture, all without fat or salt!
I love having soup as a first course for Thanksgiving because it really brings everyone together. It’s a lovely part of the meal.
Serves 4 to 6
Total Prep and Cooking Time: about 45 minutes
Olive oil for the pan
1 cup roughly chopped brown onion
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh herb mix (rosemary, sage thyme, and marjoram)
5 cups (about 1-1/4-pounds) roughly chopped peeled sweet potatoes – pieces should be about 1/2-inch
1 Fuji apple, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons Marsala wine
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
4 cups vegetable stock
Pinch of sea salt and freshly grated black pepper
4 medium-sized shallots
Coat the bottom of a large stockpot with olive oil. Place the pot over medium heat and add the onion. Cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Then add the herbs, mix to combine, and cook until it’s very aromatic, about 30 seconds.
Add the yams and apple, mix to combine and cook just until some of the yams are beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Deglaze the pot with the Marsala and use a flat-bottomed wooden spatula to scrape all the tasty bits of yam and onion from the bottom and into the mixture.
Add the cider and the stock and bring to a boil. Immediately turn the heat to a low simmer, cover, and cook until the yams are tender, about 30 minutes. When you pierce one of the pieces of yam with a fork, it should fall right off.
Turn the heat off and use an immersion blender to purée the soup until it’s very smooth.
To make the shallot “croutons,” peel and cut each shallot into 1/2-inch slices. Coat a small sauté pan with olive oil over high heat. Once it’s very hot add the shallot slices — if you don’t hear a sizzle, the pan isn’t hot enough. Wait until it is! Sauté the shallot slices until each side is very nicely browned, about 30 seconds or so. Use a tiny, flat-bottomed, off-set spatula to flip and remove them from the pan. Float a few on top of each bowl of soup.
Up to 3 days and at least 1 hour ahead of time: Make the soup.
Up to 1 hour and at least 15 minutes ahead of time: Make the croutons.
If you don’t have homemade vegetable stock (and no, I don’t expect you to), try to get a brand called Perfect Additions. It’s a great stock because it hardly has any sodium and isn’t seasoned at all, allowing you much more control over the final flavor of your dish — and it’s a very healthy choice!