Sweet potato unites flavors in tasty soup
Written by KAREN NADLER COTA Sentinel Lifestyles Editor
Tuesday, 19 March 2013 09:04
Deb Weiser is fast developing a reputation as West Wooster Street's "go-to girl" for tasty homemade soups.
|Deb Weiser with her Sweet Potato Chowder Soup. (Photos: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
She shared one of her own favorites, sweet potato corn chowder, at last month's Bowling Green Winterfest Soup and Chili Cook-off, where her entire supply of 200-plus samples disappeared in less than two hours.
Now she's generously releasing the recipe to the public, even though it is one of the soups that shows up with some regularity on the menu at her relatively new carry out/dine-in business called Good to Go.
"We probably have about 10 soups that we make regularly," Weiser estimated. "We make a sausage lentil soup that's really popular," as are her chicken noodle, beef barley mushroom, white chicken chili, and French Market ham and bean.
The day the Sentinel-Tribune photographer showed up at 1220 W. Wooster St., she was about to mix up a batch of butternut squash soup, to be served alongside the sweet potato chowder.
The latter is a recipe that Weiser has had for a long time.
"I've made it personally for like 15 years, at least. My customers love it. It's just unusual enough" to catch people's fancy.
"There were people at the cook-off who wouldn't try it. 'Oh, I don't like sweet potato,'" they would tell her.
"That's probably because all they've ever had is those awful canned sweet potatoes, prepared poorly," Weiser guesses.
For this chowder, "it's crucial that you start with fresh sweet potatoes, rather than canned. I think that would make all the difference."
Weiser says the current recipe is "a modification of a recipe from a cookbook that was put together as a fundraiser for a playground in Perrysburg."
The original called for the inclusion of both bacon and chicken stock, but she has modified it to make it a vegetarian offering.
"It's good to have an all-vegetable soup that's not heavy," she noted.
The original recipe also calls for dark beer, "which I don't bother putting in because the fewer known allergens that you serve in a restaurant, the better. It's surprising how many things there are that people feel they need to stay away from."
The taste of Weiser's version of sweet potato corn chowder makes one wonder why anyone would want to adulterate it with beer or bacon. It has a kind of purity of flavor that it seems unwise to toy with.
Even so, like most of Weiser's soups, this one is "pretty filling."
Her regulars - empty nesters, area businesspeople and busy parents - like that.
Unlike some past Cook's Corner subjects who are currently food-service professionals, Weiser did not spend the majority of her career working with food.
Her background is in communications. She worked in publications and news service at Bowling Green State University from 1978 until 2000, first as a writer and later as website designer. Then she moved on to the Toledo ABC television affiliate until 2011, when the station was sold off. "There were 13 of us and I think three stayed."
Weiser opted to retire from media but was a little young to retire from the working world in general.
"So this is kind of a pre-retirement retirement job for me," she said of opening Good To Go.
"It's been a fun time running this place. I have three part-time employees" and a growing clientele of regulars.
She also has a few after-hours and weekend gigs.
"I'm in that rock band Ginger and the Snaps" which played for Bowling Green's Farmer's Market last summer as well as for a campaign event for Kelly Wicks while he was running for the Ohio State House. Weiser contributes vocals and lead guitar.
On top of all that, for the past 10 or 12 years she's had a weekly radio show on WBGU called Saturday Shuffle with Daddy's Girl.
"So people will come in the restaurant and hear my voice and say 'Are you on radio?'"
Sweet potato corn chowder
3 extra large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
5 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 tsp. cumin
1 bay leaf
1 cup chopped onion
1 T. minced garlic
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
2 tsp chili powder
6 drops Sriracha hot sauce
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Bring sweet potatoes, broth, cumin and bay leaf to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook uncovered for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Meanwhile, saute onion and garlic in 1 T. canola oil.
Add onions, garlic, hot sauce and corn to sweet potato pot.
Gradually stir in milk and then add cheese, stirring all the while. Simmer 5 minutes.
Optional ingredients: crisp bacon, canned green chiles, cayenne to taste