We are a family of soup lovers, which is great since soup is generally easy to prepare and I can put leftovers into a stainless thermos the next day in the kids’ lunchboxes (ok, just the older girls; my 7-year-old son won’t be caught dead at school with a thermos. More on him in future posts.)
Given how much soup I make during the school year, it says a lot that this sweet potato-coconut soup might have been last year’s favorite. It is silky and sweet with a rush of orange color that gets me emotional. But the best part is a little kick of cayenne that is just the perfect way to balance the sweet. I know, I know. Those look like yams. At least that’s what the supermarkets would have you believe and it seems everyone these days is using “yams” and “sweet potatoes” interchangeably. But technically they are sweet potatoes (either Garnet or Jewel, I can’t remember), and furthermore, “Yam Soup” doesn’t sound very sexy.
Before you think this soup is just another pretty bowl of goodness, allow me to toot the horn of the sweet potato. This delicious root vegetable is outrageously high in Beta-carotene, a phyto-nutrient that has powerful anti-cancer properties, as well as iron, fiber, potassium and Vitamin C. In addition, sweet potatoes are excellent vanguards against heart disease. And yeah, the color is so … well, sweet.
For the vegetarians and vegans in the crowd, feel free to use vegetable stock or water in place of the chicken stock. You might also note the coconut milk in the ingredient list. There seems to be a lot of controversial information about coconut products. My opinion is that you would be wise to consume coconut products the way you would any other high fat food – in moderation. But there is a lot of interesting evidence which supports coconut’s anti-viral, anti-bacterial properties since coconut is super high in Lauric Acid, a fatty acid found in breast milk with immune-boosting properties. But nutrition aside, the real reason to enjoy this soup is because it’s just like a cozy hug on a cold night!
- 1 Tablespoon unrefined, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 2 pounds sweet potatoes (often labeled yams –red-skinned Garnet or Jewel), peeled and cubed or roasted and peeled
- 3 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- 2-3 Tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup
- ½ 13-ounce can coconut milk*
- several dashes or more of cayenne or to taste
- In a large pot, heat the olive oil and butter until melted. Add the onion and garlic and sauté over medium heat until tender and translucent, about 6 minutes.
- Add the cubed sweet potatoes and toss to coat with the oil, butter and onions. Pour in the chicken stock or water, sea salt and nutmeg. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook partially covered until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
- Add the maple syrup, coconut milk and cayenne. Cook until heated through. Puree soup with an immersion blender or in batches in a blender. Taste for seasoning. Serve immediately or allow to sit off the heat to thicken slightly.