Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sweet Potato-Peanut Bisque

With very few exceptions, sweet potatoes are better than potatoes in my book. Not only do sweet potatoes nail the savory options, they also get to participate in the worlds of sweets and baked goods, a feat potatoes don't dare fathom. When presented with the option, I'll always choose the sweet potato option for fries, hashes or almost any other dish you can think of. And if presented with a potato soup or sweet potato soup, I'll choose the sweet potato option. Sweet potatoes can take on many flavors that potatoes can't, like the rich and creamy peanut butter that features so prominently in this soup. The sweet potato and peanut combination has a distinctly African feel to me, creating a heartiness than feels appropriate even in the warmer months. That deep comfort is contrasted perfectly by the spice of the chiles, brightness of the garlic and ginger, and freshness of the cilantro. I love these bold flavors in my food, but you may want to hold back on the chiles and cilantro for those with less adventurous palates or those you're slowly trying to introduce to a wider experience of flavor. Although unintentional on my part, this recipe has the added bonus of being both vegan and gluten-free, allowing you to accommodate adventurous eaters with all sorts of dietary restrictions (my apologies to those with peanut allergies) in fabulous fashion.

Sweet Potato-Peanut Bisque
adapted from Eating Well
serves 2

1/2 tablespoon canola oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1/4 cup diced green chiles (about half of a 4-ounce can)
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 large or 2 medium sweet potatoes (10-12 ounces total), peeled and diced
3 cups reduced-sodium tomato-vegetable juice blend or tomato juice
1 cup vegetable broth or water, plus additional for thinning
1/4 cup smooth natural peanut butter
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish (optional)
Chopped salted peanuts, for garnish (optional)

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over mediumheat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until it just begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chiles, and allspice and cook, stirring, until mixture is fragrant, about 1 minute.

2. Add diced sweet potatoes to the pot and stir to thoroughly coat with the onion mixture. Add tomato juice and water and bring mixture to a simmer. Cook, covered, until sweet potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

3. Remove pot from heat, add peanut butter, and stir. Puree with an immersion blender to desired consistency, thiining the bisque with additional broth or water, if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Heat until hot. Garnish with cilantro and peanuts, if desired.

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