Rainy weather, like we’ve had in the Bay Area for the last week or so, always makes me want to eat hearty warm soups. I ran across a recipe for Sweet Potato-Peanut Bisque from Eating Well Magazine last week, and was inspired by the idea of an African-themed soup based on sweet potatoes. I, of course, revamped the entire recipe and included coconut milk (because what doesn’t taste better with coconut milk?). I always love recipes that allow me to use homemade ingredients, so was happy to be able to pull out a jar of my tomato passata (basically a lightly-cooked tomato puree) and use my homemade nut butter.
I make my own peanut butter using my VitaMix blender, and have started throwing in several types of nuts to make it more interesting. I buy everything raw, then roast them in the oven prior to making the butter. I use about half peanuts, then this time added in hazelnuts, cashews, and sunflower seeds. I figure it’s always good to vary my consumption of foods, and each of those nuts/seeds has its own unique health benefits and nutrient profile. I’ve found that the flavor is similar enough to peanut butter to allow it to substitute in recipes, but it’s a bit more interesting on an apple or sandwich.
This recipe is pretty easy, and so delicious. It’s a bit decadent-feeling with the coconut milk and peanut butter, but the spice cuts through the richness in a lovely way. And these are nutrient-dense foods, with lots of healthy fats–so a small bowl goes a long way to satisfy you. The soup re-heats well in the microwave, and is great for work lunches. I served it with my homemade bread, which was made with 1/2 whole wheat flour and some of the leftover whey from a cheese-making adventure this weekend. More on that next time!
African (Inspired) Vegan Sweet Potato-Peanut-Coconut Soup
- 2 large sweet potatoes (10-12 ounces each)
- olive oil
- sea salt
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 16 oz jar or can of tomato puree
- 2 cups filtered water
- 2 jalapenos or serrano chiles, chopped (seeded if you’re a wimp, like me)
- pinch (or more, as desired) red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons minced or grated fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 15-ounce can coconut milk
- 1/2 cup natural peanut butter or other nut butter
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Chopped fresh cilantro leaves or chives for garnish
- Sauteed shallot for garnish
Begin by roasting the sweet potatoes. Pre-heat the oven to 400°, and peel and chop your sweet potatoes into 2″ chunks. Toss with olive oil to coat, and dust with sea salt. Roast until the cubes begin to brown, approx. 30 minutes. Roasting brings out the sweetness of the sweet potatoes and gives the finished soup a lot more flavor.
While the sweet potatoes are roasting, begin to prep your soup ingredients. In a stock pot pot or dutch oven, heat about 1 tbsp olive oil in the pan, and add the chopped onion. Cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the minced garlic and ginger, and cook for another minute. Add in allspice, pepper flakes, chiles, tomato puree, and water, and cook for about 10 minutes.
Add in the sweet potatoes and peanut butter, and cook for 5 minutes more. Puree with an immersion blender if you have one, or transfer to a food processor or blender to process in batches. I like to leave it a bit chunky, which the immersion blender does well. Finish by adding the coconut milk and stirring until it is heated and fully incorporated. Feel free to add more water if the soup is thicker than you prefer. Season with salt and pepper to taste (salt needed can vary quite a bit, depending on ingredients used).
I happened to have a shallot that needed to get cooked, so chopped it and sauteed separately, then added it at the end for some texture. This turned out to be a lovely addition. Serve with crusty bread and top with diced chives or cilantro leaves.