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Spicy Sweet Potato Soup Recipe

Posted by Amie / February 1, 2010

20100126_Spicy Sweet Potato Soup.jpg
...with roasted red peppers and cilantro

This is definitely a week to stay in and make soup...

I have a current love affair with spicy sweet potatoes in general, but wow...this soup is the best I've had. My only regret is not making a double or triple batch. Soup, like most affairs, is not meant to last.

20100126_New Mexico Chili.jpg
(Actual length: 20cm)

This soup calls for the New Mexico chili peppers I hunted down last week at Olives et Épices, but you could use another kind of mild dried chili, like Ancho, or substitute chili powder if you're in dire straits. I'm not going to judge anyone for being too cold to go find dried chilis. You can also skip the roasted red peppers, or use canned to make this even easier.*


2 dried New Mexico Chili Peppers, other dried peppers, or 1-6 tsp. Mexican chili powder (depending on your grocer and the heat of the chili powder. 1-2 tablespoons of a milder powder, 1/2 tsp. to 2 teaspoons max of hotter varieties)
2 tsp. olive oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
A few cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
3/4 tsp salt
A pinch of dried oregano
2 large peeled and roughly cubed sweet potatoes
6 cups of broth (chicken, vegetable or beef)

2 cups of corn kernels (frozen is better than canned, but if you use canned, leave out the teaspoon of salt)

2 tsp. grated lime zest
2 1/2 tbsp. lime juice (for the zest and juice, you really only need 1 very juicy lime)
2 red peppers

Cilantro, chopped, to garnish (optional, but very nice)

20100126_Lime zest and juice, not tequila.jpg

This is not tequila.

It's just a good way of showing how much lime juice and zest you need...Feel free to drink tequila while you make this, while you eat this, or as dessert...mmm...pineapple or mango flambé.**

1. Soak the dried peppers in boiling water for 30 minutes, then remove the stems, chop finely, and set aside. Leave the seeds in. Two chili peppers were enough, but I couldn't taste the heat, so if you like it hotter, try 3, and if it's still not hot enough, the next time try adding a diced jalapeno. There will be a next time.

20100126_Red Peppers.jpg
2. Now roast the red peppers: Preheat the broiler. Cut the peppers in half and remove the core and seeds. Place them cut-side down on a baking sheet. Broil them for 3 minutes, or until the tops are black. It might take longer depending on your broiler. The trick here is make sure the peppers are fairly flat on the baking sheet, so the top doesn't blacken first (or light on fire from touching the element...not that I've done that before) and leave the sides red. To fix this, cut off the sides and lay all the pieces flat. It will make peeling the skins easier if they blacken evenly.

3. Once the peppers are blackened, stick them in a heat-proof, non-plastic bowl or container and cover for 30 minutes. Sweating the peppers like this will also make them easier to peel. Since you don't need them right away because you did this before making the soup(!), you'll be fine.

Onions4. Heat the oil on medium in a large pot and, when hot, add the onions. Cook and stir for 6 minutes, then add the garlic, oregano, chopped New Mexico chilis (or chili pepper), salt (if you're using frozen corn), and cook for 1 minute just to coat everything in the New taste of Mexico. See? Much catchier than "the taste of chili powder"...

20100126_Onions with Chilis.jpg
5. Add the sweet potatoes and broth, bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to medium-low to simmer for 20 minutes, or until the sweet potato is tender (this depends on how finely you chopped the sweet potato. If not all the pieces are the same size, bite into one of the bigger ones to make sure they're done).

6. It's probably been 30 minutes by now, so peel the red peppers and tear into strips. Set aside.

7. Zest the lime and then squeeze out the juice. Make sure you have at least an extra tablespoon of juice set aside in case you need to adjust the flavours.***

8. Blend the soup in a food processor or blender in batches. This is the most annoying step but the texture will be worth it. Use a hand blender if you have one. Do not:

1) Lift the blender lid while blending
2) Stick a utensil in the food processor to help the blending along
3) Get fed up and just eat the soup now

(Not that I've done any of those before, either...)

20100126_Adding Corn and lime zest.jpg
9. Pour the soup back in the pot and add the corn, lime zest and juice. Cook 5 minutes on medium heat until the corn is ready.

10. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, lay a few red pepper strips over each other artistically, dry your hands, sprinkle a little cilantro on it all, and call yourself accomplished.

11. OH! Then thank New Mexico for the miraculous combination of chili peppers, lime juice and sweet potatoes (the secular version of saying grace), and enjoy.

*This soup is inspired by a recipe from Judith Finlayson's Slow Cooker Recipes.

**Pineapple Tequila Flambé would be a great idea (Cook cubed pineapple with a sprinle of brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and a little of the pineapple's juice for 5 minutes in a skillet, pour tequila over top and light it on fire. Let the flames die out and serve. DON'T do this if you drank tequila while you were cooking and eating soup).

***Since the lime zest doesn't get to cook in the soup for very long, you can get a little extra lime flavour by soaking an extra ½ tsp. of zest in the extra lime juice or a teaspoon. of olive oil while the sweet potato is cooking, and adding it just before you serve the soup. It makes a beautiful lime-infused finishing oil.

Extra recipe #2 for those who made it to the end of the post:

Cranberry Scones (for when it's late and you're craving scones. It can happen, I hear)

2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda

3 tbsp butter
2 tsp. orange zest
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg yolk, whisked

1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 tsp vanilla1/3 cup dried cranberries (or a cup of fresh cranberries, and add 2 more tablespoons of brown sugar)
1 egg white

Make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature. This can foil even the most exceptional scone-makers.

1. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.

2. In a medium bowl, cut the room-temperature butter into pieces and beat with the orange zest for 1 minute. Gradually add the brown sugar and beat on high for 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk slowly, beating for 2 minutes.

3. On low speed beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture. On medium speed beat in half the yogurt. Back to low speed and beat in half the remaining flour. On high speed beat in the rest of the yogurt and the vanilla. Finally, on low speed beat in the last of the flour. Trust me, this will give you a really good texture. Don't cheat.

4. Fold in the cranberries.

5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and shape into 2 balls. Roll it out or spread it with your hands to circles about 3/4" thick (6 inches in diametre). Put the dough on a baking sheet and cut each circle into 6 wedges.

6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly beat the egg white and 1 tbsp. of water in a bowl with a fork. Brush the glaze lightly on top of the dough. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until the scones are golden.



Laura / February 2, 2010 at 08:59 pm
A word of caution for all the cold folk who cant get themselves together to delve into the the realms of fresh dried chilli (ie me.. it was cold outside!)

Know Your Chilli Powder!

2-3 table spoons is not a hefty amount of mild chilli powder. However! if you are in the habit of shopping at ye old local indian grocer, check how insanely hot your chilli powder is before adding.
I myself used 3 teaspoons and to my horror could not eat the soup.
Don't get me wrong-i like spicy food but this was the hottest chilli powder in the history of chilli powders.
anyhow, dont be a fool and get caught in a hungry frustrating situation of wanting to eat soup and not wanting your face to melt off from spice. the end.
Amie replying to a comment from Laura / February 2, 2010 at 11:50 pm
Oh that's awful! Soup should never play a horrible trick on you like that. I've changed the recipe to reflect the potential for chili powder disaster. So sorry! I'm really curious where you get your chili powder, though, and what kind it is! It sounds like you could make a very good Raj Masala or Rogan Josh with just a little bit...well, a little bit of chili plus a million other spices.

Hopefully your future soup-making is less mouth-numbing.
Laura / February 3, 2010 at 02:31 pm
It was quite an experience. My super duper hot chilli powder came from the smallest of the mile end fruiteries on parc in between bernard and viateur. Its the one run by the lovely indian couple (who know alot about spice and chilli).. the real kicker is she said the chilli powder was a mild one.
i feel like a soft joke of a spice lover.

(i plan to conquer the soup tonight though, i dont really feel like I got to eat any)
Amie replying to a comment from Laura / February 4, 2010 at 12:48 pm
Oh that's my old grocery store! The lady is lovely. Their spices are fresher than you'd find at a big grocery store, which might also explain why the not-so-mild chili powder had a bit of extra kick. The other thing you could do to try and salvage the soup is dilute it with some of your fresh pot. If you're going to make more anyway and there's a chance to fix the first batch, you might think it's worth it to chop a bit extra of each ingredient and then add just enough to dilute the chili flavour. Just leave the chili powder out of the fresh pot of soup until you've added some of the new soup to the old soup. Then add it to the fresh pot to taste. Then you could keep the fresh soup separate and potentially also eat the first soup. Maybe it's too late for the first pot, but I really hope tonight goes better!
Amie replying to a comment from Amie / February 8, 2010 at 02:14 pm
So I went back to my old grocery stores on Parc south of Bernard (the organic one and the one next to it with all the olives and marinated vegetables), and they actually do have dried ancho chilis at the one with the olives. The ground spice options aren't that many, but you can get ground Mexican Chili powder there, which is probably your best choice. Definitely stay away from the cayenne. Hopefully the soup worked out better this time?
Laura / February 8, 2010 at 10:35 pm
Soup round two: Laura: 1/ Soup: 0!
So I've been super slack in getting around to the rematch but this eve I kicked some soup ass.
I took your advice and grabbed some ancho peppers on the way home, dodged the urge to order take away, dismissed my boyfriend's disgrunted comment that the dry peppers smelled like old feet and proceeded to produce a soup that will make him forever think twice about dissing dried peppers.
Yum! Thanks a tonne for the recipe!
Since this is your old hood, and you seem to appreciate scrummy food- any recommendations? We just moved and I've scoured the area for all the knoocks and crannies but I'm always up for some solid advice..
Amie replying to a comment from Laura / February 10, 2010 at 12:27 am
Yes!! I'm so happy!

Hmm...Le Zigoto for lunch ( or brunch if you eat yogurt, or muffins, and especially brownies. 5731 parc at Bernard

Maryska for lunch if you're not vegetarian ( 69 St-Viateur West

Milos for an incredible Greek splurge ( 5357 parc at St-Viateur

Mission Santé Thuy: Organics, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese ingredients. Amazing Vietnamese soups (not pho-style) with lotus and red dates and other good, healthy takeaway, mostly vegan but also fish, organic chicken and meats.( 1138 Bernard at de l'épée

Yannick Fromagerie d'Exception ( 1218 Vernard at Bloomfield

Mamie Clafouti: Baked goods and bread ( Samples on weekends and amazing clafouti. 1291 Van Horne at Outremont

Café Olympico: Espresso ( 124 St-Viateur West

Nouveau Falero: Sashimi quality fish (skip their take-out upstairs). Kind of expensive, but very, very good. Best BC salmon for sushi...tastes like butter. Better than what you'll get at Maiko Sushi and Oishi Sushi nearby. Don't buy their pre-made sushi, though, because they don't use the BC salmon in it. Atlantic is cheaper but doesn't taste nearly as good. Just don't get in a fight with the fishmongers about sustainability like I did. It doesn't make you any friends. 5726A parc south of Bernard

I maybe went a little happy with the recommendations, but I loved living there and I hope you do too.
Laura / February 11, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Yes I'm already loving it, and have found watering holes like Zigoto and Olympico to be indispensable.
As for the fromagerie- Thank you! ive been trying to sniff out a good cheese shop for a while.

and as someone who comes from a land* where sushi is plentiful, fresh, cheap and succulent (and therefore makes up a large portion what goes in my mouth) thank god for your recommendation.
I have tried maiko, oishi and a variety of little downtown joints much to my dismay to be most terrible.

Amazing. Thanks Amie.

*Land of Oz.

annabellyeo / February 16, 2010 at 02:14 pm
Looks SO yummy!
Anne / February 16, 2010 at 03:11 pm
Looks so colourful ~ in Vancouver so don't have access to all your ingredients but going to try it out anyway ~ wish me luck!
Amie replying to a comment from Anne / February 17, 2010 at 05:34 pm
Of course, good luck! I'd be surprised if you couldn't find everything you need in Vancouver. Sorry I can't be of more help, but I'd love to hear how it goes!
Paloma / April 20, 2010 at 05:10 pm
I just tried this with the little I had in my bare cupboards, and even without the lime or red pepper, it was delicious. Can't wait to make it again!
Amie replying to a comment from Paloma / April 20, 2010 at 09:38 pm
Oh hurray! So glad to hear it. I firmly believe that sweet potato makes amazing soup of any kind, but the sour lime and the sweet peppers will hopefully make it even better. Thanks for the post!
SmithJ / May 20, 2010 at 02:22 pm
9eLNY5 Lol lol lool lol ha-ha! Lol lol lol?
Debby / March 13, 2011 at 01:52 am
I've enjoyed your posts and plan on making the soup soon. I've been exploring both Indian and Mexican cuisines lately and it has been an education in spices. I too ran into the chili powder issue. There is a huge difference between the dark red chili powder our mothers used (likely ancho), and the orangey red chili powder found in Indian grocers. Since most recipes don't specify I use the Indian (very cautiously) for Indian recipes, and the Mexican for Mexican and Caribbean recipes.
Another one to watch out for is smoked paprika. I ran across a few recipes that called for it, and was using chipotle chili powder, but I wanted to find the real thing. Well, it's a far cry from the paprika my mother put on her deviled eggs for colour. The stuff I found at the Cookbook Company in Calgary would peel paint. I've gone back to the chipotle chili powder; it gives the smokey flavour but not the excessive heat.
Awais Khatri / October 26, 2011 at 07:32 pm
I am very like to Sweet Potato because in my country it's very cheap but i heard first time about the soap of Sweet Potato Really new thing share you thanks i will try to make this :)
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Arborists Brisbane / March 5, 2012 at 03:00 am
I am gonna try all the recipes during my weekend... thanks
Myles / August 9, 2012 at 08:28 am
I would like to try this as a crock pot soup. What differences in preparation would you recommend?
Steffers / December 7, 2012 at 07:28 pm
This soup was amazing, I used three peppers because I really wanted a kick. Amazingly there was no spiciness to it at all. I ended up adding a bit of sriracha sauce for a kick. Delicious. Perfect for a cool winter night. Thanks so much for the recipe!
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