sweet potato soup

I have long been confused over the actual difference between the sweet potato + yam.  As a culinary amateur wallowing in one kitchen foil after another, I offer no precise clarification to this, other than I typically just pick up a few yams when a recipe calls for sweet potatoes, and in my bewilderment, hope for the best. The Sweet Potato Council of California offers a fairly basic understanding: Sweet potatoes are native to Central America + Peru, and consist of a dry flesh; Yams, on the other hand, are native to Africa and yield a moister flesh. And although a few California farms boast this root vegetable, a vast majority of the world's yam crops are harvested in West Africa, where it remains an agricultural commodity, not only for its abundance but for its self-preservation properties, lasting up to half of a year. No small feat for any vegetable. 

And so today, I choose to fiddle with yams. Veiled in imperfections & a rough exterior, peeling away the yam’s rigorous, purple rind reveals something quite the opposite beneath: a gorgeous, vibrant orange meat emerges and suddenly the yam becomes inviting. Once manipulated, whether baked, boiled or candied, the taste is soft, delicate, and always sweet. Every bite is a treat.


True to fashion, I was enticed by a recipe calling for sweet potatoes, and naturally substituted with the yam {which I assume is acceptable as the result was amazing}. This deliciously spiced soup is a simple + naked, yet hearty + healthy recipe that comes from one of my new favorite cookbooks: It's All Good by Gwyneth Paltrow + Julia Turshen. I have yet to make a recipe from this book that I haven't liked, and today is no exception. 

*Note: Below is a slightly modified version of the recipe, as I had to source some alternative ingredients. The actual recipe can be found in their book, available on Amazon.

See below. Feel free to comment. But most of all, enjoy.

Spiced Sweet Potato Soup

 2 Large Yams, peeled + diced

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Lg Red Onion, finely chopped

2 or 3 Garlic Cloves, minced

5 Cilantro Sprigs, tied together with kitchen string

¾ Tsp cumin

1 Tsp Ground Chipotle spice

Sea Salt

6 Cups Vegetable Broth {the book cites a great homemade recipe for vegetable stock, which undoubtedly makes the soup so much better. For simplicity sake, I used organic Vegetable Broth from Pacific Naturals.

*Heat olive oil over medium heat in large pot {I like using the Le Creuset French Oven}. Sauté garlic, onions, cilantro bundle, cumin & dash of sea salt until soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in the yams, ground chipotle + vegetable broth. Turn heat to high + bring to boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low + simmer for 30 minutes or so. Yams should be soft. Discard cilantro + add soup to blender (I did this in batches). Puree. Serve.

The soup is spicy & rich, so it is a meal in itself. As such, I served this alongside some baked kale tossed in lemon, olive oil + a touch of sea salt to balance it out.