Soup has been the last thing on my mind this month, what with the heat and humidity. But we had a little burst of dry, breezy, and almost autumnal weather on Sunday, so I seized an opportunity to turn on the oven and let something simmer on the stovetop. Two loaves of my friend Alexandra’s peasant bread and a pot of this simple, sweet potato & roasted red pepper soup were the happy result.
This isn’t my first time making the soup: it’s one of those recipes I make often but have never thought to blog about, in part because it’s sort of a moving target. I tend to season the soup differently almost every time I cook it: sometimes I use curry paste, extra garlic, and lime for a Thai-inspired version; sometimes it’s curry powder and vegan yogurt; sometimes it’s five-spice powder and ginger; sometimes, as with this batch, it’s smoked paprika and chili.
I guess the soup’s adaptability is really its superpower. It’s a simple base: just onion, garlic, sweet potato, and broth, which all goes into the blender (or gets pureed with an immersion blender). The special ingredient is roasted red bell peppers, which compliment the sweetness of the potato and add a touch of smoky flavor, too. I like roasting the peppers from scratch, because I think the smokiness is more prominent when I do. But I’ve definitely made the soup with jarred, roasted bell peppers in a pinch, and it works very nicely, too.
So, as I’ve been polishing off bowls of the soup all week for lunch—piled with rustic croutons and usually served with a tasty, simple side salad or pita or wrap—I’ve been thinking it’s time to finally share this much loved recipe, along with the flavor variations I like. Hope you’ll try it out and come up with your own different spice/seasoning blends to liven it up with.
|Simple Sweet Potato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup||
- 4 large or 6 small red bell peppers (substitute 1½ cups jarred, roasted red bell peppers, chopped roughly before measuring)
- 1 tablespoon neutral cooking oil (such as refined avocado or grapeseed) or a few tablespoons water
- 1 large or 2 small white or yellow onions, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped (1½ lbs after preparation)
- 5 cups low sodium vegetable broth (or 4 cups broth + 1 cup water)
- ¾ teaspoon fine salt
- Juice of 1 lime
- Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
- See note for optional flavor variations!
- Preheat the oven to 450F. Arrange the peppers on 1 or 2 parchment or foil-lined baking sheets. Roast for 40 minutes, or until the skins are wrinkled and charred. Remove the peppers from the oven and allow them to cool and collapse (about 20-30 minutes). Remove the stems, skins, and seeds from the peppers; chop the peppers roughly and set them aside until you’re ready to use. They can be transferred to an airtight container and stored in the fridge for up to a week.
- Heat the oil or water in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the onion. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5-7 minutes, or until the onion is soft and clear. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or so. Add the potato, broth, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft.
- Add the roasted peppers to the pot. Use an immersion blender to blend the soup till it’s smooth and creamy, or transfer it to a blender in batches and blend till smooth. Transfer the soup back to the pot and heat gently. If the soup is thicker than you’d like, add some extra broth or water to achieve a desired consistency. Add the lemon juice and crushed red pepper to taste; taste and adjust the seasonings as desired. Serve. Leftover soup will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge. It can be frozen for up to 6 weeks.
1. Thai-inspired: Add two extra cloves minced garlic; add 2 tablespoons red curry paste to the soup before simmering (along with the potatoes, broth, and salt).
2. Indian inspired: Add 1 teaspoon mustard seeds and 1 teaspoon cumin seeds to the hot oil before adding the onion. When the mustard seeds start popping, add the onion. Add a tablespoon of curry powder to the soup before simmering (along with the potatoes, broth, and salt). After the soup has finished cooking and blending, stir in 1 cup plain vegan yogurt of choice. Serve with fresh, chopped cilantro. You can also stir in some cooked basmati rice for extra heft.
3. Smoky: Add 1 teaspoon smoked paprika and 1 teaspoon chili powder to the soup before simmering (along with the potatoes, broth, and salt). Alternately, add 2 tablespoons chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.
5. 5-Spice: Add 1 tablespoon minced ginger to the soup along with the garlic. Add 2 teaspoons Chinese five spice powder to the soup before simmering (along with the potatoes, broth, and salt).
For the croutons, I simply cut a couple slices of the peasant bread into cubes and transferred them to a parchment lined baking sheet. I sprayed the with olive oil spray and baked at 350F for 15-20 minutes, checking them a couple times to be sure they didn’t burn. Easy peasy. You could most any type of bread to make the croutons, or you could serve the soup with toast, tortilla chips, or even a scoop of cooked whole grains. Roasted chickpeas would be awesome, too!
I polished off the last of the leftovers yesterday, when it happened to be especially muggy out. I had them cold, and while it was a totally different soup experience, I liked it.
Enjoy the soup, stay cool, and I’ll see you on Sunday with some fresh recipes and reads.