I love sweet potatoes. Maybe it comes from growing up in New England, where sweet potato and squash dishes of all kinds are peppered throughout my childhood and my memories. I’ll eat them mashed and baked into a sweet casserole, just roasted plain in the oven, made into chips, fries; pretty much any way you can serve them, I’m fairly sure I will enjoy them. I know sweet potato isn’t a squash, but I often place it in the same category as squashes when it comes to flavors – the warm almost sweetness that caramelizes ever so slightly upon cooking lends it to working so well in many dishes where squash would normally be the star.
Living en Suisse, I had long since resigned myself to just having to accept the fact that I probably would not be able to enjoy sweet potatoes while I was here – I’ve never seen any in the markets, nor even my neighborhood grocery store. Well, until last weekend, when lo and behold there appeared out of thin air a wonderful box of U.S.A.-grown sweet potatoes just begging for me to pick them up and put them into my basket; I was absolutely giddy with myself for being able to eat one of my favorite vegetables again.
Such a special occasion as having tasty sweet potatoes demands a special dish. I wanted something I could enjoy bowl after bowl after bowl. And we have! My husband and I have been enjoying this soup for the past 3 days straight, and I can honestly tell you we are both looking forward to eating more, we haven’t gotten the least bit tired of it yet!
I do have to confess, before this weekend I had never paired sweet potato and coconut before – but I thought they should work, as squash and coconut often marry well – coconut is not just for dessert you know – and no amount of coconut cream pies requested by my husband (and he does request a lot!) will change the fact that I love coconut in savory dishes just as much as (probably more than) I do in sweet ones. Coconut just mellows and blends together whatever it cooks with – want to have heat and tang of chillies but not have to burn all the tastebuds off our tongue to enjoy it? Or smooth out sharp spices to enjoy their maximum flavor? I promise coconut is the answer – not by any particularly scientific inquiry of mine, just my personal experience.
This soup was all about blending flavors – coconut milk, sweet red peppers, lots of chillies and aromatics, and of course, sweet potatoes. Heck, this soup was all about blending period, as I used my immersion blender for the first time ever. I can’t believe it took me so long to remember to take advantage of it, it’s such an incredibly useful tool that came as an attachment to my hand-mixer. I have long used my food processor to purée soups and was always disappointed that I never could get everything smoothed out. You still could use a food processor for this soup, but if you have an immersion blender, this is the perfect dish to embrace it!
So I hope you enjoy this soup as much as we have – if you haven’t had coconut in savory dishes, this is definitely one to try – and if you think sweet potatoes were only for Thanksgiving, you are very much mistaken
Come have a bowl with me – a bowl of rich flavorful, stick with you through the day, vibrant and spicy sweet potato soup.
And yes, that is coconut whipped cream I have garnished with here – a really easy guide to making it can be found on Nutty Kitchen.
I am also submitting this post to Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free hosted by Linda of Gluten Free Homemaker – the theme this month is seasonal soups, either in season or out of season. Honestly I don’t think there is a sweet potato season in Switzerland, and I’m guessing Springtime is not their season where they are grown either, so I guess I will call this an out of season soup. I imagine sweet potatoes as an Autumn vegetable, but only because of my memories of Thanksgiving – thoughts??!
Also submitted to Gluten Free Wednesdays
Adapted from YumUniverse
Preptime: 20 minutes to chop everything
Total time: 2 hours
Special Equipment Needed: immersion blender
- 8 medium sized sweet potatoes
- 2 tbs. vegetable oil
- 2 medium sized onions, diced
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and cut into thirds
- 2 tsp. ginger, minced
- 2 red bell peppers, diced
- 200g (1/2 lb.) mushrooms of your choice, diced
- a few generously sized spoonfuls of Thai red curry paste depending on your taste
- 2 cups water
- 1 L coconut milk
- Preheat an oven to 190º C (375º F). Place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and roast for an hour or until soft.
- Remove sweet potatoes from oven and peel them (you may want to let them cool a little, they are hot – I just peeled them with my hands), then mash with a fork.
- In a large stockpot, heat oil on medium-high heat. When hot, add in onions, garlic, lemongrass, and ginger, and let cook until fragrant and translucent.
- Add to the soup bell peppers, mushrooms, and curry paste and let cook about 5 more minutes, stirring every couple minutes to make sure everything is flavored well with the curry paste.
- Pour in the water, bring back to a simmer, then remove from heat. Remove the lemongrass from the soup (but keep because we’ll be adding it back in later) and use the immersion blender to purée the soup in the pot.
- Add in the mashed sweet potato and coconut milk, and use the immersion blender to purée again the soup so that everything is smooth.
- Return the lemongrass to the soup and place the soup back on the stove – bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low and let cook at a low simmer for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors develop.
- Serve with a side of steamed sticky rice, or just enjoy plain in a bowl. Enjoy!