Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sweet Potato Soup

Last Saturday's farmers' market had the feel of a fair or a street festival. The sun was shining and people came out in droves. Kids were running around on the grass, adults were enjoying samples from Chef Dave Alworth of Guglhupf, and local musicians were playing their tunes for anyone passing by. Despite being a full week into the month of October, the weather was more reminiscent of late spring or early summer with temperatures near the 90's. You would have had a difficult time convincing anyone that it is in fact fall here in Durham.
Photo courtesy of http://www.durhamfarmersmarket.com
Unless you took a close look at the produce available at many of the market's vendors. Sure there was the occasional basket of zucchini, fresh corn and summer tomatoes, all evidence of the long summer season we are blessed with in North Carolina. But more abundant were the baskets of winter squash: pumpkins of all sizes, acorn squash, butternut squash, you name it. Root vegetables joined the mix with some beets and turnips and, one of my personal favorites, the sweet potato. I love the flavors of fall and sweet potatoes embody the season better than almost any other food. They are delicious when mashed and whipped, a perfect side dish at Thanksgiving. They pair wonderfully with the fall/winter spices of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. They are naturally sweet all by themselves but are even sweeter when candied or baked into a pie. And despite their sweetness, they are actually incredibly good for you. They are full of Vitamins A & C, beta carotene and dietary fiber. But feel free to leave that out when you serve them to friends or kids. Just let them enjoy how delicious they are.

This soup is certainly no exception. It plays off the natural sweetness of the sweet potatoes by adding the spicy bite of fresh ginger and a touch of cayenne pepper. The peanuts on top not only add a crunch that contrasts with the smoothness of the pureed soup but also adds a salty note to balance out the heat. This soup would be perfect for a cool night in fall or winter but if the warm weather comes back, I promise it still tastes like fall even if it feels like summer outside. This soup would make a great starter or serve it as dinner like I did with a sauteed vegetable and toasted crusty bread.

Sweet Potato Soup (Serves 4)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cup chopped)
  • 2 tbsp ginger, peeled and chopped (from a 2 inch piece)
  •  3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped (4-5 cups chopped)
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.
Saute onion and ginger for 5-8 minutes, until onion is soft and translucent.
Add carrots and season with cumin, nutmeg, cayenne, salt and pepper; saute for another 3-4 minutes until spices are fragrant.
Add sweet potatoes, stirring to combine.
Pour in enough stock to just cover the vegetables.
Bring the soup to a simmer and cover, cooking until the vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes.
Remove the soup from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Puree the entire pot either with an immersion blender or, in batches, in a food processor.
If the pureed soup is too thick, add a bit more stock.
Adjust the seasoning if necessary and reheat slightly if soup cooled significantly.
Serve garnished with 1 tbsp of peanuts.

For a printable recipe click here

Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup


  1. This looks wonderful! I've made sweet potato mash but never sweet potato soup. I'm going to have to add this to next week's menu :)

  2. Finally got around to making this tonight, and it was amazing!! I just got a food processor and this was the perfect way to "break it in." The peanuts were a great touch too. There were only 2 of us eating it for dinner and I can't wait to have the leftovers during the week!