Archive for the 'What’s Cookin’' Category

Spicy Sweet Potato, Black Bean, & Peanut Butter Soup

I was looking for a sweet potato soup recipe and ended up settling on this one because it incorporates chillies & peanut butter – staple foods as far as I’m concerned.  Here’s the link to the original.  I’ve pasted the recipe below, and am including some of my own notes here.  A seriously great meal for colder months… like June in San Francisco.  :)

My notes:

  • I ended up using a yam because my tiny local grocer didn’t have the orange-fleshed sweet potato.  Worked fine for me.
  • I used canned black beans because I decided to make this last-minute and didn’t have time to soak beans overnight.  If you use canned beans, rinse & drain them to get rid of the excess starch and salt
  • I was a little overzealous with the dried chillies and it turned out too spicy for my friend.  To mellow it out I added half of a can of lite coconut milk… makes it just a little richer, but didn’t add too much of a sweet, coconutty flavor
  • I topped it with black sesame seeds because I had them and they added a nice crunch
  • I think it makes more than 6 servings… I’ve been eating the leftovers for days.  Reheats nicely.  :)

Original recipe:

Spicy Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup with Black Beans

sweet_potato_soup2

1 cup dried black beans
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large carrot, sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 large sweet potato (about 1 lb.), peeled and cubed
1 teaspoon dried hot red chili flakes, or to taste
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 cups vegetable stock
2 cups water
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
fresh ground black pepper
small handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped

Rinse the beans and soak overnight covered in several inches of cold water with a little yogurt whey or lemon juice added. Drain, place in a medium saucepan, and cover with several inches of fresh water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour or until the beans are tender but not falling apart. Drain and set aside.

Heat a large saucepan or soup pot over medium heat. When hot, add the olive oil, wait a few moments, then swirl around to coat the pan. Add the carrot, onion and garlic and sauté until the onions turn translucent, about 6 to 8 minutes. Turn up the heat slightly and toss in the sweet potato and chili flakes. Stir for a couple of minutes, then add the tomato and cook until the tomato has reduced slightly, about 5 minutes. Pour in the vegetable stock and water and bring to a slow boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Stir in the peanut butter and beans and let simmer for another 5 minutes to let the peanut butter melt into the soup and to warm the beans. Remove from heat, and season with salt and plenty of fresh ground black pepper.

Serve hot with a sprinkling of parsley for garnish. Serves 6.

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Kitchen Stadium

Every year I try to undertake a few self-improvement initiatives – sort of like resolutions but more habits that I hope to adopt for the long-haul. Recently, I’ve been making more of a conscious effort to waste less. This applies to many things… generating garbage, buying clothes I never wear, keeping the faucet running while brushing, and most commonly buying food only to let it rot.

The last one is especially fun because it consequently forces me to push my culinary limits. For example, my roommates and I have a frequent habit of individually stocking up on bananas and ending up with too many for the group. My “no waste” policy compelled me to bake some banana bread last month that seemed to go over well with the roommates and car-pool. After our second banana boom I decided to try my hand at bananas fosters (flambe and all). I used this recipe from Brennan’s (minus the banana liqueur – didn’t have any) and we devoured the full batch.

Last weekend we threw a housewarming party for which we purchased an excessive amount of food and drink. Incidentally, over the course of 6 hours, most of the food was eaten. And the left-over beverages have a fairly long shelf life. We did, however, end up with a large bag of unused limes… So this weekend, I knocked out about three limes in these awesome lime cookies. I’m hoping to use up the rest this week when I try out this ceviche recipe.

What I’ve found is that this Iron Chef concept of a single “secret ingredient” makes cooking more fun. Not only does it lighten the burden of deciding what to cook, but it imposes the enjoyable challenge of working within fixed constraints. Most importantly, it helps me discover new recipes that I would normally overlook… Lime cookies are surprisingly delicious!


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