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Last night the craving for soup struck hard. Earlier in the week I had made vegetable broth, so I was in luck. I’m going to take a short digression to talk about making my own vegetable broth.

I cook a lot of veggies. There are always odds and ends leftover: the ends, the peels, the bruised bits, the leaves. I hate to throw them away, so what I’ve started doing is saving them for vegetable stock. Put them in a container in the freezer so they don’t spoil, and then when there’s enough (I had about a 1lb ziploc bag, though more or less can be used), they’re ready to go into a yummy vegetable stock. Put the frozen veggies into a large pot and cover with water. The other day I cooked red beans, and saved the cooking liquid, so I also added this to the pot. Bring the pot to a boil, and then lower the heat and simmer for about an hour. The liquid should no longer be clear (the color it turns will depend on the veggies used). If you’re not sure if it’s finished, you can always do a test taste. Once the stock has finished cooking, remove the veggies with a slotted spoon and discard. Strain the liquid to remove other particles or smaller bits of vegetables. I double strained mine.  Store in the fridge for up to a week.  Now my favorite trick to store it longer: freeze the stock in ice cube trays. If you have guests though, don’t be surprised if upon opening your freezer door they yell “Ahhh! WHY do you have dirty ice cubes?” Once you explain though, they usually think it’s pretty cool.

Back to the soup. In South Korea I am surrounded by sweet potatoes. During the winter, vendors sell baked sweet potatoes from small carts on the street, there is sweet potato cake and sweet potato cookies. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was sweet potato ice cream; hey, there is a green tea ice cream and a red bean ice cream. My students bring baked sweet potatoes wrapped in foil to school and offer me bites. The problem: I hate sweet potatoes in all of these forms. The smell of baked sweet potatoes makes me nauseous, and I’ve never been able to get behind a cake made with potatoes, even if those potatoes do have the word “sweet” in their name.

However, I keep coming across more and more articles heralding the health benefits of sweet potatoes: they’re good for your skin, your eyes, your heart health, they have loads of vitamins, they have lots of fiber (hurray! I teach for 6 hours with only 5 minutes breaks which are just long enough for tiny snacks, not meals). So I’ve been wanting to try them. Soup it is.

Ingredients

Olive Oil, 1 tbsp
Onion, 1 medium diced
Celery, 1 ½ cup, diced
Carrots, 2 medium, diced

Sweet Potatoes, 2 cups cubed
Garlic, 3 cloves, smashed
Mushrooms, 1 cup chopped
Peas, 1 can
Lime Juice, 1 fl oz
Pepper, black, 1 tbsp
Ginger Powder, 3 tsp
Paprika, 1 tsp
Turmeric, ground, 1 tsp

Salt, Dash
Bay Leaf (I used bay leaf powder)
Water, 1 ½ cup
Vegetable Stock (See above for how to make) 3 cups

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add all of the vegetables except the peas, and allow to sweat for about 10 minutes. (Sweating is done on a low heat and doesn’t brown the vegetables. If they are browning, lower the heat.)

  2. Add peas, water, vegetable broth and seasoning. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer.

  3. Cover the pot, and simmer for 1 hour.

  4. This next step is where I would change what I did. For a hearty, chunky soup, do nothing to it. Just ladle into bowls and enjoy. I blended about half of the soup in the blender, and then mixed it back in with the rest of the soup.

    The color of the blended soup is, to say the least, off-putting. To be polite, it reminds me of baby food. It’s easy to guess what it impolitely reminds me of, and the color of the blended soup is enough to make me not enjoy it very much. I could have tried to make the photos of the blended soup look better, but there’s that old saying, “You can put a pig in a dress, but at the end of the day, it’s still a pig.” Well, that’s how I felt about this soup. The taste was ok, and it’ll do for the rest of the week. I’ll probably try adding rice or beans to it. Lesson learned: don’t blend soups that have green vegetables, like celery and peas, in them.

Before the blending disaster, I stole a spoonful of the chunky soup and it was delicious. I would make the chunky version of this again.

I still want a creamy sweet potato soup, so next time the ingredients will be simpler (and nothing green!): sweet potatoes, carrots and onions for veggies, and maybe some ginger and garlic as well. When I make it, I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Cheers!

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