Amanda and Ken’s Smoky Sweet Potato Soup

Amanda & Ken's Smoky Sweet Potato Soup
Amanda & Ken’s Smoky Sweet Potato Soup

Note (note 1): This post seems to have a lot of notes.

My last year of grad school, my two roommates and I hosted somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 people for Thanksgiving.  We added all the leaves of my drop-leaf table (I’m the last of the grandkids to get it, and it seats 12), plus several desks and side tables and created this huge banquet table that took up our whole living room.  It was honestly possibly the best Thanksgiving dinner ever.  There was SO MUCH food, and it was all amazing — and all done on grad school food budgets.

[Vaguely related side-note (note 2): It did not hurt the situation that apparently, people don’t love pumpkin pie as much as I do, and leftovers consisted of an entire pie that no one else in my house wanted.  I ate it.  All of it.  To our lovely readers: if anyone knows of a gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, SOY-free pumpkin pie recipe that works, please please please please share.  I will be forever in your debt.]

This amazing recipe was made by my friends Amanda and Ken (who also brought something else reasonably gourmet for grad school.  It involved fancy cheese and mushrooms, I think.)  Neither of them remembers where the recipe came from, and apparently neither one has a copy anymore.  This isn’t the original anyway, but it’s still perfect — thick and creamy, smoky and sweet, and possibly the most perfect welcome to fall soup ever.

Note about measurements (note 3): This is not a recipe in which all ingredients must be precisely measured.  It’s more about proportions.  If you get stuck buying a threesome of leeks (like I did) and can’t see where the left-out leek will get used in your weekly meals, add it and cut back the onion a bit.  Adjust the seasonings to your preferences (For example, I often double the amount of nutmeg in this soup, but when making it for other people, who find that overpowering, this is the recipe I use).

Amanda & Ken’s Smoky Sweet Potato Soup

In large sauce pan over medium heat, melt:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy-free Earth Balance

Add:

  • 1 ⅓ cup chopped sweet onion (about 1 medium onion)
  • 2 ¼ cup chopped leek, white and light green only (about 2)*
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic (about 2 cloves)
  • ¼ teaspoon thyme, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

    Nutmegs
    Nutmegs

Cover and cook about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender.

Translucent veg
Translucent veg

Add:

  • 2 ⅔ cups cubed sweet potatoes (about 2 smaller tubers)
  • 2 ½ cups low-sodium vegetable broth

Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, cover and cook until potatoes are tender (about 35 minutes)

Add:

  • Adobo sauce OR chipotle chili**

Puree the soup.  Best way to do this is with an immersion blender, but a blender or food processor, or even food mill, would work.

Serve hot, with chopped cilantro for topping (unless you hate cilantro.  You know who you are.  Just leave it off.)

Standard Recipe Format Ingredients List:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy-free Earth Balance
  • 1 ⅓ cup chopped sweet onion (about 1 medium onion)
  • 2 ¼ cup chopped leek, white and light green only (about 2)*
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic (about 2 cloves)
  • ¼ teaspoon thyme, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 ⅔ cups cubed sweet potatoes (about 2 smaller tubers)
  • 2 ½ cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • Adobo sauce OR chipotle chili**

**(note 5): Leeks.  If you’ve used them before, skip this mini-tutorial.  If you’ve never used them before, I think you may love them.  But know before hand that they are dirty dirty vegetables, full of grittiness.  Here’s how I prep them.

Leeks 1
Leeks cut up.

Cut off the tops and bottoms.  Anything above the light green is really tough.

Leeks 2
Sliced lengthwise.

Slice them lengthwise.

Leeks 3
Washing leeks.

Soak them in the sink.  If you have any doubt if this is necessary, look at the grit left in the sink when you drain it.

Proceed by draining the leeks (or just shaking them over the sink if you have little patience) and slice thinly.

**Spice (note 4): chipotle peppers in adobo sauce come in a can, usually from the Mexican foods section of the grocery store.  Chipotle are smoked jalapeño peppers and adobo sauce is a smoky, spicy tomato and vinegar sauce.  This stuff has a good kick to it, so if you haven’t used it before, start conservatively and add more as needed.

What you add from this can will depend on your taste and dining companions, but if you like things a bit spicy (or more than a bit), add one chipotle chili from the can — the chilis vary in size, so root around in there and find one   that’s about your current level of courage.  If you like things a little less hot, add 1-2 tablespoons of just the adobo sauce.  If you have a mix of spice needs in your audience, serve the adobo sauce on the side.

Even if you like things crazy hot, you will have leftovers!  I often store the sauce and peppers separately — the sauce can go in the fridge for about 4 or 5 days (it’s got vinegar in it, but usually no other preservatives).  It also freezes well.  I lay the chilis themselves out on wax paper or parchment over a plate, and throw it in the freezer.  When the peppers are frozen, throw them in a plastic bag.

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