Daniel really likes sweet potatoes. He bought two bags of them at Trader Joe’s on a recent trip and has been steadily eating his way through them. I haven’t had the same desire to eat them as he has, but browsing through recipes online the other day, I found a recipe for African Sweet Potato Soup with Peanut Butter, Black-Eyed Peas, and Beans that sounded really delicious.
Daniel took a look at the ingredients, and said he didn’t want any of the yellow pepper, and didn’t want me to use peanut butter either. I couldn’t find cilantro the last time I was at the store (and I wasn’t about to make a special trip), and I didn’t want to buy limes, because we have lots of lemons already, and two sour citrus fruits on hand at one time seems like decadence.
So I give you my version of the soup, which was indeed very tasty, and shares much in common with the original, but with a few twists based on what I had in my refrigerator and cupboards. The apple as a replacement for both the yellow pepper and the added sugar was really effective, giving it a more subtle, natural sweetness. I also had my doubts about how coconut milk and almond milk would go together, but it was really nice, and the kitchen smelled amazing while I cooked.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 to 3/4 inch cubes
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 apple, diced (I used a Gala apple because that’s what was on hand – try a different one and see how it turns out)
- 4 to 5 cloves of garlic, halved
- 4 cups water
- 1 tablespoon red Thai Kitchen curry paste (yes, I actually had this on hand)
- 1 or 2 cinnamon sticks
- salt to taste
- 1/2 cup almond butter dissolved in 1/2 cup hot water (1 cup total liquid)
- 1/2 of a 15-oz can light coconut milk *
- 1 15-oz can black beans
- 1 15-oz can cannellini beans
- lemon and diced tomatoes for garnish
- hot rice
Sauté sweet potatoes, onion, and apple in the oil in a dutch oven or large soup pot over medium heat until they are soft and ideally have caramelized some. Add in garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes more. Add water and bring to a boil. Dissolve the curry paste into the mix, add salt to taste, and toss in cinnamon sticks. Reduce heat and simmer 30-40 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are soft.
Smash some of the sweet potato pieces and all of the garlic cloves until the broth is a little bit thicker and there are no big hunks of garlic left. Add in almond butter mixture and coconut milk, and stir. If the soup is too thick, you can add a little more water at this point. Taste and correct seasoning, adding more curry paste or salt as needed. Simmer 10 minutes more. Add beans and continue to simmer until everything is heated through. Serve with a squeeze of lemon and a few diced tomatoes on the top, alongside or on top of some hot cooked rice.
* Note: I only used half a can of coconut milk for this soup, since I had it left over from another recipe. You could use an entire can so you don’t have any left overs, or use the other half can for another recipe. I recommend starting with half a can, and then tasting it and seeing how you feel. I think if I’d used any more coconut milk it would have overpowered the more delicate flavor of the almond butter.