Remember Stone Soup? In the tale, a stranger wanders into town, hungry. Locals slam their doors. So the guy makes soup.
He builds a fire, heaves on a caldron of water and drops in a rock. The curious creep out to watch the odd concoction cook. One adds an onion, another some carrots. Soon everyone is feasting on thick and flavorful soup made from ingenuity and collaboration.
It’s the recipe for civilization.
So it’s fitting that recently, when Chicago’s chefs honored immigrants — who keep the restaurant industry industrious — they served “solidarity soup.”
After all, where would the townsfolk be if that hungry immigrant hadn’t happened by? Alone with a useless onion or carrot, cowering behind locked doors.
Curried Sweet Potato Bisque
Prep: 15 minutes. Cook: 45 minutes. Makes: 6 servings.
Adapted from a recipe by Paul Fehribach, chef and co-owner of Big Jones restaurant in Chicago.
3 cups sweet potato, peeled, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 cup leeks, white parts only, cut into ½-inch pieces
5 cups whole milk
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 to 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut up
Simmer: Load all ingredients except butter into a large saucepan. Simmer, stirring regularly to prevent scorching, until sweet potatoes turn tender, about 45 minutes. (If the soup looks curdled, don’t worry; it will be silky smooth in the end.)
Blend: Pull out bay leaves. Pour soup into a blender (or work in batches). Blend completely smooth, adding butter one chunk at a time through the slot in the lid.
Serve: Scoop into small bowls and serve at once. Or chill and reheat over low heat, stirring often. Good with cornbread, baked apples, poultry or whole grains.