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Eat, Sleep, Drink

Spiced Sweet Potato Soup Recipe

The Woodspeen

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Spiced sweet potato soup topped with a crisp bhaji unwaws

Oxfordshire and its surrounds are famous for outstanding food and hospitality: from farms, growers and markets to cafes, pubs and restaurants. We are delighted to have the chance to feature some of the very best.

The Woodspeen

The Woodspeen is a restaurant and cookery school set in a lovingly restored 19th century farmhouse, over the border in the West Berkshire countryside. As the seasons change, so too does the menu. It frees the chefs to flex their creative muscles and get the very best out of ingredients while they’re in their prime.

The Woodspeen will celebrate 10 years of bountiful seasonal cookery in 2024, so there’s no better time to visit. We went to the Cookery School earlier this year, to learn how to master The Desserts of Italy under the auspices of passionate young chef, Chiara (“everything you make, treat it like your baby”). She patiently taught us the secret to a perfect tiramisu (including a simple savoiardi dough to make the requisite lady fingers), sumptuous strudel, crunchy biscotti and so much more. Entering the cookery school feels like walking onto the set of Masterchef; all gleaming stainless-steel stations complete with precision ovens, hobs, stand-mixers and just about anything else you may conceivably need in your quest for culinary perfection.

The session finishes with a delicious lunch from The Woodspeen’s kitchen, served around a communal table and students leave with a box each, stuffed with the fruit (or bakes) of our labours. Before leaving, we headed to the bar to toast our successes and there we found a dream of glamourous deco styling with a cocktail menu designed to entice. I must give a special mention to the hand-cut and cooked crisps which accompanied our drinks. A return visit to the open, airy restaurant is already being planned and in the meantime we’re delighted to feature a recipe by Peter Eaton, Executive Chef, The Woodspeen / WSH Restaurants.

Spiced sweet potato soup topped with a crisp bhaji

“The Woodspeen’s menus are shaped by seasonality – we only cook with what’s in season to ensure we’re getting the optimal flavour from our produce. So, this month I’m sharing a recipe from our Spring Set Menu – our edit of essential seasonal dishes – which looks deceptively simple with its four ingredients but packs a real punch of subtle and sophisticated flavours.”

For the soup…

Ingredients:

  • 3 sweet potatoes
  • 3g Vadouvan Spice, containing pounded onion, mustard seed, fenugreek, cumin and garlic, this is a French-style masala spice available from Waitrose, Ocado and other good retail outlets
  • 500ml water 
  • 500ml oat milk

Method:

  • Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into 1cm chunks
  • Place your medium saucepan on the stove and add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan and put on a high heat
  • When the pan is hot add the diced sweet potato and stir well. Add a good pinch of salt
  • Cover the pan with the lid and turn down to a low heat for five minutes
  • Remove the lid and then add the spice and cook out for two minutes
  • Add the water and oat milk and put on a high heat to bring up to the boil.
  • Once boiling, cover again with the lid and turn down to a simmer. Cook on a low heat for 20 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are soft
  • Turn of the heat and leave to cool down a little before blitzing in a blender or can use a hand blender and blitz

Chef’s tip

If the mix is more like a thick puree just add a little water to loosen it up.

For the Bhaji…

Ingredients:

  • 20 cumin seeds
  • 20 coriander seeds
  • 20 fennel seeds
  • 10g coriander chopped
  • 1 red onion - finely sliced
  • 200g / 1 large sweet potato - grated
  • 50g gram (pulse) flour
  • pinch salt

Method:

  • Toast the spices together in a medium hot dry pan for about a minute until fragrant.
  • Mix all the ingredients together, except for the flour, and season lightly.
  • Add flour – little by little – until all ingredients are coated.
  • Add a little water to create a batter.
  • Make into rough balls, not too tight, and shallow fry in a frying pan or pop into a fryer at 170°c until crisp (about four to six minutes)

Garnish with a good spoonful of crème fraiche under the crisp and delicious sweet potato bhaji; this is to balance the flavours. Add a drizzle of balsamic syrup and chopped coriander on top to finish the dish.

The Woodspeen is part of a small boutique group of restaurants, which also includes The Boxford – also near Newbury, and The Star Inn, Sparsholt.

thewoodspeen.com

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