20 September 2013
Sweet potato soup with black beans, corn, and jalapeno
It has actually started to get chilly here in scenic NorCal! You know what that means: SOUP. On the other hand, "chilly" in NorCal really means "highs of under 80F during the day, with lots of sun," so while the fall vegetables are certainly emerging, we still have tomatoes and corn and zucchini and hot chili peppers everywhere. Okay! Let's make a hearty soup full of both late summer and fall produce!
I took some inspiration from Joanne's sweet potato corn & jalapeno bisque and made this soup. The catch is that we needed protein, but that was easy enough to fix with the addition of bean broth and black beans. It also balanced out the serious sweetness of the potato and corn.
So, to sum up: this is an easy, delicious, filling, spicy vegetarian main dish soup with protein and seasonal vegetables. And if you use oil instead of butter, it's vegan! Convenient as hell.
I wanted a big vat of thick, creamy puree studded with bits of barely-cooked corn, so I reserved the corn to add at the end. If you want a more highly textured soup, you can always add the whole black beans to the pot after your puree the potatoes and broth, or you can just hold off on pureeing altogether. It's delicious in every case.
butter/oil of your choice
3 cloves garlic
2+ hot peppers
cumin, oregano, red pepper flake
2 big sweet potatoes
3-4 cups veg and/or bean broth
2 cups black beans, refried or whole
2+ ears fresh corn (frozen also ok)
lemon or lime juice to finish
garnishes of your choice: curtido de repollo, sour cream, cilantro, green onion, lime wedges, corn tortillas, avocado...
Start by warming a good slug of oil over medium-high heat in the large soup pot of your choice. Dice up your onion and add it to the pot, stirring to coat with oil. Smash and mince your cloves of garlic and add them as well.
Destem and mince your hot peppers. I used one garden jalapeno and one random red hot pepper from the farmer's market; you can use whatever combination you so desire. I imagine these hot peppers would be a particularly great addition if you roasted them and flaked off the skin beforehand, but I was in the WANT FOOD NOW zone and so didn't bother.
Add your hot peppers to the pot. Season with cumin and oregano to your taste, and add a sprinkle of salt. If you want extra spice, you can add in some red pepper flake as well. I used some hot red hatch chile flake, because that's how we roll, and also because my parents brought us a gigantic bag of it last year, and we're still nowhere near making a dent even though we use it all the time.
Stir everything together and cook, lowering the heat a bit if necessary, to soften. In the meantime, peel and cube your sweet potatoes.
When your vegetables have softened and the onion is golden brown, add your broth to the pot. I used a mix of frozen pinto bean broth and vegetable broth; the bean broth adds protein and the veg broth adds flavor. If you're on the meat boat you can use chicken stock, but it's really not necessary. (Now I'm having a horrible flash of what "the meat boat" might look like. Curse you, personal slang!)
Add your sweet potatoes and black beans to the pot and bring everything to a boil. Cover, lower the heat, and simmer until your potatoes are cooked through. This took about 20 minutes for me, but the time will vary depending on the size of your potato cubes.
Pull your pan off the heat and puree with an immersion blender until the soup reaches your desired texture. Taste and correct the seasonings. You may want to add some more broth or water if the soup is too thick for your tastes.
Put the pan back on the heat and let it simmer gently while you husk your ears of corn and cut the kernels off the cobs. Add the corn to your soup, stir, and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes, or until your corn kernels are hot and delicious. Take the pan off the heat, add any final sprinklings of pepper, and mix the juice of a lime or half a lemon into the pot. Done!
Serve your soup with the garnishes of your choice, preferably of the "fresh and crispy" category. We had ours with big whacks of well-drained curtido de repollo, which provided an excellent crunchy contrast plus some extra acidity. A wedge of extra lime and a stack of corn tortillas charred over the gas flame are also good ideas.
The best part? We had enough soup to feed us for two dinners, plus a few extra servings to stash in the freezer. Hooray!
How are you bridging the gap between summer and fall?