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Recipes: Three soups that show off the flavor and versatility of sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes do everything white potatoes can and more, in vibrant color.

Portuguese-Style Green Soup With Sweet Potatoes and Sausage (Caldo Verde).
Portuguese-Style Green Soup With Sweet Potatoes and Sausage (Caldo Verde).(Photographs by anthony tieuli / food styling by Sheila jarnes)

Baked, roasted, grilled, stuffed, mashed, oven-fried — sweet potatoes can do it all, including a range of soups from chowders to broths to smooth purees. These recipes do right by the nutrient-dense, earthy root vegetables and show off their versatility.

Portuguese-Style Green Soup With Sweet Potatoes and Sausage (Caldo Verde)

Makes about 2½ quarts 

Caldo verde is typically made with white potatoes, but sweet potatoes are a natural here. This recipe calls for Tuscan kale — also know as black, dinosaur, or Lacinato kale or cavolo nero — but you can substitute regular kale.

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

½ pound chouriço, soft chorizo, or linguiça, halved lengthwise and halves sliced ¼-inch thick

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2 medium onions, chopped

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon pressed or grated garlic (about 5 medium cloves)

2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth (homemade if possible)

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes (about 7 cups)

½ pound Tuscan kale (about half a largebunch), stems removed

2 teaspoons cider vinegar, or more, to taste

In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the sausage and cook, stirring, until it is lightly browned and the oil is tinted red, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to paper towels to drain, and set aside. Pour all but about 1 tablespoon of the oil into a small bowl and set aside.

Return the pot to medium-high heat, add the onions and ½ teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 40 seconds. Add the broth, sweet potatoes, 1½ teaspoons salt, and pepper to taste, adjust heat to high, and bring to a strong simmer. Adjust heat to medium-low, cover pot, and simmer until sweet potatoes begin to soften, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the kale leaves into thin strips by stacking a couple of leaves at a time, rolling them lengthwise into a tight cylinder, and cutting across the cylinder to produce ribbons no more than   3/8-inch wide; you should have about 8 cups, lightly packed. Add kale and cooked sausage to the pot, adjust heat to medium, and simmer, stirring, until kale is bright green and tender, about 4 minutes. Add the vinegar and stir to mix. Adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and vinegar if necessary and serve, drizzling each portion with some of the reserved sausage cooking oil.

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TIP: FLAVOR BOOST

Save the juices from the rotisserie chicken container, defat them, and use them in the chowder.
Save the juices from the rotisserie chicken container, defat them, and use them in the chowder.(anthony tieuli)

Sweet Potato and Chicken Chowder

Makes about 3½ quarts 

Using homemade chicken broth makes this chowder really shine. Alternatively, liven up packaged broth by simmering it for at least 30 minutes with the bones from the rotisserie chicken, stems from the parsley, and a chopped onion and celery rib, then straining out the solids.

5 slices bacon (about 5 ounces)

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 celery ribs, finely chopped

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme

Salt and pepper

1½ quarts low-sodium chicken broth (homemade if possible)

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes (about 7 cups)

1 cup heavy cream, optional

1 small cooked rotisserie chicken (about 3 pounds), meat shredded into bite-size pieces (about 3½ cups)

1½ cups frozen peas

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, cook the bacon over medium-low heat, turning as necessary, until fat is rendered and bacon is lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Drain bacon on paper towels, crumble, and set aside.

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Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat and return the pot to medium heat. Add the onion, celery, bay leaves, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are heated through, about 3 minutes. Adjust the heat to medium-low, cover, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have released their juices, about 8 minutes. Add the broth, sweet potatoes, and 1 teaspoon salt, adjust the heat to high, and bring to a strong simmer. Adjust heat to medium-low, cover the pot, and simmer until the sweet potatoes begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Place about 2 cups of the mixture in a blender and, with the lid vented and holding a kitchen towel loosely over the lid, purée until smooth. Scrape the purée into the pot and stir to combine with the soup.

Off heat, add the cream, if using, chicken, peas, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste, stir, cover, and rest the chowder for about 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.

If necessary, reheat the chowder over medium heat and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Add most of the parsley, stir to mix, and serve, garnishing each portion with some of the reserved bacon, if desired, and a sprinkling of the remaining parsley.

Spiced Sweet Potato Soup With Tomato

Makes about 2½ quarts 

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

Salt and ground black pepper

1 tablespoon pressed or grated garlic (about 5 medium cloves)

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2 teaspoons paprika

1½ teaspoons ground cumin

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon honey

6 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1 large can (28-ounces) petite-diced tomatoes, drained and liquid reserved

1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled, quartered, and each quarter cut into thin slices (about 3 cups)

½ cup cilantro leaves, plus extra chopped cilantro for garnish

¼ cup parsley leaves, plus extra chopped parsley for garnish

Greek yogurt, for serving, optional

In a Dutch oven or large soup pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and ½ teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Adjust heat to medium-low, cover, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the onions have released their juices, about 5 minutes. Adjust the heat to medium-high, add the garlic, paprika, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, and cayenne and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 40 seconds. Add the honey, broth, and reserved tomato liquid and scrape the pan to dissolve the fond and honey. Add the sweet potatoes and bring to a strong simmer. Adjust the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the sweet potatoes are very tender, about 25 minutes. Add the cilantro and parsley leaves, 1 teaspoon salt, and ground black pepper to taste.

In a blender (working carefully and in batches) or with an immersion blender, purée the mixture until smooth and uniform. Return mixture to the pot if necessary. Add the tomatoes and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until soup is just heated through, about 5 minutes. Adjust the seasoning with salt and ground black pepper if necessary and serve, garnishing with a small dollop of yogurt, if using, and the chopped cilantro and parsley.

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Adam Ried appears regularly on America’s Test Kitchen. Send comments to cooking@globe.com. Send comments to cooking@globe.com. Get the best of the magazine’s award-winning stories and features right in your e-mail inbox every Sunday. Sign up here.