Archives for posts with tag: sweet potatoes

Two photography resolutions.

Stop using a camera phone.

i take too many pictures of leeks

Eat dinner at breakfast-time.


This is the second corn chowder I’ve posted here. I can’t help myself. This one is different; I promise. Both are smokey. Oh wow, both of them even have sweet potatoes. I’m sorry. But this one has collards, and even if you’re not a huge fan of collards you’ll like them here, I think.

Also, this one is vegan. Back then I thought that it was possible to whisk tofutti into soup. Ha.

soup and sandwichDSC_0024

Sweet Potato Chowder with Collards and Roasted Corn
serves 4 generously

1 C sliced, washed leeks
2 T vegetable oil
1 t kosher salt
1/4 C AP flour
6 C vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
1/2 t liquid smoke
3 C sliced, washed collard leaves
2 C peeled, cubed sweet potato
1 1/2 C frozen roasted corn
1/2 C soy creamer or half-and-half

In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, saute the leeks in the oil with the salt for about 5 minutes, until soft. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in the stock, raise the heat to high, and vigorously whisk some more (any remaining lumps will disappear as you go).

Add the bay leaf, liquid smoke, collards, and sweet potato. (Regarding the collards: I slice them while they’re dirty, submerge them in a big bowl of water, wash thoroughly, then lift them out of the bowl and directly into the soup–no need to dry them.) Once the mixture comes to a boil, bring the heat to low and cook 20 minutes, or until the sweet potato is tender and the collards are no longer quite so green and pretty.

Raise the heat again to high, and when the soup is boiling add the frozen corn. Cook for 2 minutes, then remove from heat, stir in the cream, and taste for seasoning. Serve hot, with some bread or toast on the side.


This is a quick and easy recipe, especially if you use frozen veggies only. Here I boil a sweet potato, but you don’t have to. Choose some frozen broccoli and carrots, or corn and green beans, your choice, but varying color and texture is a plus.

This photo shows zucchini and green beans along with the sweet potato. I have substituted butternut squash for the sweets as well, but we like the sweets best. This was the 3rd time I’d made this curry in 3 weeks.

This korma is made by Seeds of Change, there are others but I don’t know if any are vegan. This one has cream.

Forbidden rice was once reserved for the emperor, now we can all enjoy it, and it’s become my absolute favorite.

Vegetable Korma on Forbidden Rice
serves 4

1 12-oz. jar Korma sauce (a mild Indian coconut curry)
1/2 C frozen peas
1 small sweet potato, peeled, and cut in bite-sized cubes (or 1/2 C of any 2 frozen veggies, cooked)

1 C forbidden black rice
1 3/4 C water
1/4 C chopped onion, or 1 T dried onion flakes
2 t olive oil
1/4 t salt

1/2 C pepitas

Heat the korma in a saucepan large enough for the sauce and the veggies. It doesn’t like to be boiled.

In a small saucepan saute the onion on oil, add the rice and stir for a minute or 2, add the water and salt, bring to a boil and cover. It takes about 35 minutes to cook. Omit the onion saute if you’re in a hurry, and just add the onion flakes to the rice and water.

Put the pepitas on a small sheetpan and put them in a hot oven, 450. When they are puffed and lightly browned, they’re done, about 10 minutes, but check often, once they start to brown, they burn easily. I do mine in the toaster oven, where some of them pop. You can stir them around in a hot frypan too, although they tend to pop more and jump out. Pour them into a serving bowl to cool.

Peel and dice the sweet potato, put it in a saucepan with water to cover, bring to a boil and simmer for 7-8 minutes. You can add the frozen peas to the saucepan for the last 3 minutes. If you use frozen veggies exclusively, you can do the same, say 8 minutes for broccoli, 3 minutes for corn, so throw in the corn after the broccoli has cooked 5 minutes. Saves cleaning 2 pans. Microwave if you wish! Drain the veggies and add to the heated korma.

Put some rice on a plate, artfully ladle the korma over to show off some of the rice, and at the table, each diner sprinkles the toasted pepitas on her dish.

I never get tired of this dinner. It is very complex, with the sweetness of the coconut and sweet potato, the texture of the tiny grains of black rice, and the nutty crunch of the pepitas.

As some of you may know, I have a hard time saying no. The UCLA campus seems to be a lightening rod for my spinelessness, particularly the area surrounding the coffee shop by the research library. There was the guy who was stranded on campus with car trouble and needed cash, and I won’t even say what I did when I discovered I had none on hand (let’s just say there’s an ATM in the vicinity). Then there was the guy who sold me magazine subscriptions–two of them!–despite my lack of funds, not to mention my lack of interest in any of the magazines he was selling. I also will not say what I paid for the subscriptions. Wow, just typing this up is making me feel a little ill.

The upside of this story is that I have a subscription to Vegetarian Times. Despite the really embarrassing origin of my subscription, I find it to be an interesting if confused publication, and one that I’ve developed a fondness for. Veggie Times isn’t sure if you’re a honey-eschewing vegan or a dairy hound, a teetotaler or a wino, and so its recommendations run a pretty big gamut, which is entertaining to watch. And like most food magazines, it wants you to buy stuff other than food, which always bums me out a little. Whatever. Who am I to criticize a magazine that runs in print, let alone one that prints a number of great recipes per month.

I was drawn to this Farmers’ Market Chowder immediately because, maybe, I’m from Cape Cod, and maybe because I make a corn chowder that I’m pretty proud of, with chipotle chiles and cilantro. So I stole the base of this recipe (which infuses milk with corn and other aromatics), added my chiles, removed a few extra frypans, and ate soup for breakfast. As a dairy hound myself I’m pretty enamored of the result, which has a fine chile-infused butter slick on top of melty chunks of sweet potato and perfectly cooked green beans, not the least bit squeaky but with a little chew left in them. That said I can’t help wondering how you’d make this vegan…maybe whisk in some tofutti? Blend some of the broth with a block of silken tofu? As I type them, both these options sound wacky. Mom, are you there?

Smoked Corn Chowder
adapted from Vegetarian Times (Sept. 2011)
serves 6 (at least)

4-5 ears fresh corn
the stems from one bunch of cilantro, washed
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 1/2 C milk

2 T butter
1 T olive oil
4-5 medium leeks
2 chipotle peppers, chopped finely (or 1 if you’re wary)*
2 medium carrots, sliced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into medium cubes
1/2 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/3 C dry cooking sherry
4 C water
salt and pepper to taste
2 T chopped cilantro, plus a few springs for garnish
lime wedges for serving (optional)

*I get these in a small can at the supermarket, packed in adobo sauce. Then again I live in Southern California.

First, get the corn kernels off the cob. The easiest way to do this is to get a giant bowl and a smaller bowl. Invert the small bowl and nestle it in the bottom of the big bowl. Balance the end of the corn cob on the small bowl and use your sharp knife to slice off the kernels, which get caught in the big bowl. Does this make sense? I learned it from Rachel Ray (who, say what you will, knows how to get that corn off the cob). Next, you want to get all the extra bits of corn off the cob. The Pioneer Woman will show you how, using the dull side of your knife (check out the 8th and 9th photos).

Now you have a big bowl with corn and another bowl in it, and 4-5 denuded corn cobs. Break these in half and toss them in a small saucepan with the milk, cilantro stems, and smashed garlic cloves. Maybe all your corn cobs won’t fit. That’s fine. Bring the milk to a simmer over medium heat, then remove from the heat and cover. Let the milk steep while you do the rest of the soup.

Heat the butter and oil in a Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Meanwhile, clean your leeks. This woman cleans them the way I do–they are dirty critters and need loving attention (even better than running them under the tap is swishing them in a bowl of water). Slice them up and add them to the butter and oil along with two big pinches of kosher salt. I do this in stages–slice a couple leeks, add them to the pot, slice a couple more leeks, add them. Stir them up well. Next, chop up your chipotle peppers and add them to the leeks. Stir. Then the carrots. Stir.

Now, crank up the heat to medium-high and deal with your sweet potato. Once it’s peeled and chunked and the pot is hot, add it and stir well. Saute the mixture for 5 minutes or so, until you start seeing a little caramelization on the bottom of the pan and the potatoes are just starting to soften. Deglaze with the sherry, stir, and add the quart of water. Now’s a good time to add another two pinches of kosher salt and some pepper. Cover and bring to a simmer.

Simmer for 5 minutes or so while you prepare the green beans. Add them to the pot and simmer 6-8 minutes, until the green beans are a little squeakier than you like them (the sweet potatoes will be done by now). Add the corn kernels and simmer for one minute. Turn off the heat and strain the milk mixture into the pot, discarding the corn cobs, cilantro stems, and garlic cloves. Taste the broth and add more salt if you need it. Stir in the chopped cilantro and serve with extra springs of cilantro and a wedge of lime on the side, if you like.

This recipe might have come from the old hippie restaurant cookbook, The Horn of the Moon. They didn’t use sweet potatoes though, and I think they add unbelievable depth, sweetness, and body to a pretty good soup.

Many customers buy 2 or 3 of these at a time, one to eat, and a couple to freeze. As we make soup in the fall and winter only, these come in handy on those cold spring days.

Butternut Ginger Soup
serves 8

1 lb. white navy beans
1 large sweet potato, about 1 lb.
1 medium butternut squash, about 1 1/2 lbs.
2 T olive oil
2 T ginger, peeled and minced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
1/2 C brown basmati rice
1-2 t salt, to your taste

If you’re using dried beans, soak them in water overnight, add a little salt, 1/2 tsp. or so, and cook until done, adding water as it boils off or becomes absorbed. Set aside.

While beans are cooking, bake the sweet potato and butternut squash. I like to slice them lengthwise, scoop the seeds out of the squash, spray their cut surfaces with olive oil, spray a cookie sheet or sheet pan, and bake them, cut sides down, at 375 until soft, about 45 mins.-1 hour. Test for doneness with a sharp pointy knife–if there’s no resistance, they’re done. If the sweet potato gets done first, take it out and continue baking the squash. Let them cool a bit, and using a spoon, scoop out the soft insides directly into a food processor. Discard the skins. Add a cup of water to the veggies, and buzz them up. If it’s really thick, add a little more water. You want it fairly thick, because you’ll have the water from the rice mixture and you’ll be adding the water from the beans to the soup.

In a 4 qt. soup pot or cast iron pot, saute the onions, ginger and celery in the oil. When soft, add the carrots and garlic. Saute a few minutes more.  Add 3 cups of water, a little salt, and the basmati rice. You can use white here, but I like the texture of the brown rice better. White cooks faster, though, 10-15 mins., brown, 30.

When the rice is cooked, add the beans and their water, and the pureed potato/butternut. Taste for salt. If the soup’s too thick, add a little water and simmer 10 mins. If it’s a little thin, simmer it awhile with the cover off the soup pot.

A couple of suggestions:
1. You can put the cooked yam/butternut puree in the fridge and proceed with the recipe the following day.
2. You can chop the garlic and ginger in the food processor until it all sticks to the sides of the bowl, add the onion, carrots, and celery, cut in chunks, and pulse until they’re chopped. Don’t overdo this–you want small pieces, not mush. I do this when I’m in a rush, but I prefer the look of the sliced and diced. Then saute!
3. You can bring the dry navy beans to a boil, turn off the heat, let it sit for one hour, and then finish boiling them. I do this a lot.
4. Use 3 15 oz. cans of beans, drained and rinsed, if you’re in a rush. After you add the beans to the soup, add 2-3 cups of water in batches until you like the consistency.

[The daily soup at Amber Waves from Nov. 4, 2010.]

Just finished reading Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi. What a wonderful, insightful, funny, sad, introspective read! Anyone who lived thru the ’70’s would love it. As would almost anyone, excepting guys who watch football all the time. Or maybe not! We’re all in the book! The author’s name is Geoff Dyer. He’s a Brit.

I came upon this soup recipe in a less refined form in one of my dozen soup cookbooks awhile ago, but didn’t want to bother looking it up so I could actually make it. So, I improvised. The customers really really loved it, many who had a sip while paying for it said “I’ll take one more.” Now they’re really really looking forward to having it again. Which is somewhat of a problem, with organic red peppers at $10.79/lb. Although I never use perfect peppers, I wait until they start to get wrinkly and then no one wants them and that’s when I make the soup.

Red Pepper, Sweet Potato and Chickpea Soup
serves 5-6

2 large sweet potatoes, about 2 lbs.
3 red peppers, seeded and cut into large chunks
2 ripe tomatoes, cut in large chunks
1/2 C chickpeas, soaked overnite and cooked to death (or two 15 oz. cans, drained)
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
½ C brown basmati
1-2 t salt – I like my salt on the light side, taste it!
3 bay leaves
olive oil

Roast the sweet potatoes at 400 degrees for 30-40 min., or until easily pierced with a sharp knife. I split mine in half lengthwise and put them on an oiled cookie sheet, or the little pan that comes in your toaster oven.

Scoop out sweet potato innards (you can use 2 cans of sweet potato, but it won’t be as sweet), and put in food processor bowl. Add 1 cup water, and process until smooth. Add tomatoes and peppers to processor and pulse until pepper pieces are quite small and the mixture is a nice red color.

Saute onions in a soup pot over medium-high heat, with around 2T olive oil. When the onions are soft, add garlic and carrots and rice and saute for 3-4 min. more. Add the mixture from the processor, the bay leaves, salt, and 2 C. water or veggie broth. Lower the heat, and simmer 35-40 min. or until rice is cooked. Dump in the chickpeas, and their cooking water. Simmer 10-15 min. more, and serve.