Quick Bite: Cold Comfort
Circa 1886 chef Marc Collins has your soup du jour cure for the winter blues
When the weather turns cold and cloudy, as it’s wont to do in February, sometimes the only thing to do is hunker down at home with a good book and a warm meal, say a steaming bowl of soup. But how many times have you just poured that dinner out of a can for lack of a better idea? That’s where Marc Collins, executive chef at Circa 1886, comes in. He may be a haute cuisine king (who happens to be the founding father of the Charleston Wine + Food Festival), but he knows a thing or two about comfort food, and his recipe for sweet potato and pear soup is a particular favorite.
“This is an easy, one-pot dish,” says the chef of this scrumptious purée that pulls in winter flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg. “The key is to make the soup in a heavy bottom pot about an inch deep. In deeper pans, the potatoes can fall to the bottom and burn,” he notes.
The recipe calls for either water or vegetable stock, and while both will work, “veggie stock just adds more depth to the soup,” he explains. Once the sweet potatoes are tender, blend the mix in a food processor. “You’ll want to do this in batches,” he says.
As for the final result, Collins suggests pairing it with a spinach salad. “A drizzle of olive oil, Banyuls vinegar, walnuts, blue cheese, and dried cranberries would be the perfect match,” he notes. And the best part? This uncomplicated recipe means you’ll have time to sit and enjoy a glass of wine with a friend before diving in. Cure your winter blues, one spoonful of soup at a time.
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
- 4 celery ribs, chopped
- 3 large ripe pears, cubed
- 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large cubes
- 6 cups water or vegetable stock
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- Ground nutmeg, to taste
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Ground black pepper, to taste
2 Tbs. sautéed pear
Place first eight ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and cook until potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes. Cool slightly. Remove bay leaves and cinnamon sticks. Purée in batches in a blender, until smooth. Return soup to saucepan and heat through. Season to taste with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Garnish with sautéed pear. Serve hot.
For pear garnish:
1 large pear, peeled and diced
2 Tbs. butter
1 tsp. minced chives
Brown butter over medium heat in a sauté pan. Add the pears and sauté till golden on the edges. Cool to room temp and fold in minced chives.