Sweet Potato Kale Soup

Although we are pretty lucky here in the south to have a farmers market that lasts through winter, some weeks at market the selection can seem pretty slim. Read on for plenty of ideas for working with what’s available at market these days. 

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If you’re shopping at the market, you’re probably at least trying to eat seasonally. In our world of supermarkets bringing food from all over the globe, very little is not available year round. It can be hard, starting out eating seasonally, to even know when certain fruits and vegetables are meant to be eaten.

Sometimes eating seasonally is easy: when spinach and lettuce, along with other lovely, tender greens, are abundant in spring; or when melons, cucumbers, squash, or dead ripe tomatoes are available in summer; or fall, when the summer produce is still ripening into the cooler days that bring the return of greens.

Sometimes eating seasonally in winter is fairly easy. The weather is mild and, along with vegetables left over from the fall harvest, there are a wide variety of greens, cruciferous veggies, and maybe some mushrooms.

Right now it’s a bit harder! It’s so cold that the greens are having a hard time growing, even under cover. Chickens are not producing as many eggs. Farmers can get sick like the rest of us and may be unable to bring their produce (and therefore more variety) to market.

That leaves storage veggies and meat. Whether you’re vegan or carnivorous there are still things to eat. It’s time to get creative!

I’m going to focus on storage vegetables in this post, though you can use the search bar for various meats and other recipes. On your computer you’ll find the search bar near the top of the page. On my iPhone I find it near the bottom.

Storage vegetables, as the name implies, are vegetables that store well for long periods of time without processing. Most need a period of curing, and are best stored in cool conditions, but they don’t need refrigeration, freezing, canning, or drying (though you can do those things with many of them).

Most are root crops, with the exceptions of cabbage and winter squash. And whatever kohlrabi is.

There are a couple of pages each of blog posts of recipes for butternut squashcarrotspotatoessweet potatoes,pumpkins, and one page for winter squash. There will be some overlap as some ingredients can be used interchangeably.

Despite all those recipes - including at least three for sweet potato soup - I wanted something different recently, something that reflected the current produce availability at market. Although most vegetables right now are root crops, there have been small amounts of greens, including microgreens as well. One night Jeffrey served a kale and sweet potato soup. It was good but was a kale soup with sweet potatoes, and it made me think about a version the other way round: sweet potato soup with kale. All the recipes I found online were more about kale so I made up my own.

I made a sausage version for those of us who eat meat. I used hot Italian sausage from Hoe Hop - super yummy but very hot! For the vegetarians I used chickpeas. There were quite a few recipes for sweet potato-kale soups with lentils online, and one with chickpeas. I asked my head vegetarian for his opinion and Jeffrey chose chickpeas. They are certainly a pretty color contrast in the soup, and Jeffrey said it was a good texture contrast, too: slightly crunchy chickpeas to counter the softer sweet potatoes.

The sausage I used was so flavorful that I only added onions and one clove of garlic to the mix. For the chickpea version I used more garlic as well as some ginger.

Although the soups are very similar I made them to the taste of those eating them. Mine had more sweet potatoes, the vegetarian version less. Consequently, I needed more stock in the sausage version, even though I drained the chickpeas. (Remember to save your chickpea water for aquafaba.)

If you are an omnivore you might enjoy both sausage and chickpeas in your soup, just use half the recommended amount of each.   

Use your vegetable and/or meat scraps for homemade stock for the best flavor. I often save up scraps in freezer and make a batch at the beginning of supper to add to whatever I’m making. I prefer browning the scraps in a little oil or butter, but you can throw all the ingredients with the water to save time, as in this blog post.  

Enjoy a hot bowl of seasonal soup on these chilly days and nights!

 Photos by  Zachary Cross

Photos by Zachary Cross

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Sweet Potato Kale Soup

Inspired by The SpruceThe Vegan 8, and Tastes Lovely

Sausage Version:
Ingredients:

1 lb Italian Sausage
Oil, as needed, for cooking sausage
1 onion, chopped
Garlic (optional)
Fresh ginger, grated (optional)
3 - 4 cups peeled and cubed sweet potatoes (two extra large potatoes)
1 - 1 ½ quarts stock (veggie, meat, or a combination)
½ - 1  small bunch of kale, stemmed and sliced into ribbons
Salt and pepper to taste
 

  1. Remove sausage from casings and begin to cook in large pot, breaking up the sausage to desired size. Add a small amount of oil, if necessary (I did not need any). Add onion and cook to desired doneness (I like my onion soft). Salt lightly while cooking. Add ginger and garlic as desired.
  2. Add potatoes, season with salt, stir, then add one quart stock. Add additional stock and/or water as needed.
  3. Simmer until potatoes begin to get tender. Mash potatoes as desired.
  4. Add as much kale as looks good, knowing that it will wilt a little. Season with salt and stir. Cook until kale is to desired tenderness. Kale sliced small cooks quickly.
  5. Taste and correct seasonings.


Chickpea version
Ingredients:

1 onion, chopped
2 Tbs olive or other oil, or as needed for sautéing
1 - 4 cloves garlic
1 - 2 Tbs fresh grated fresh ginger
3 - 4 cups peeled and cubed sweet potatoes (two extra large potatoes)
1 - 1 ½ quarts veggie stock
1 - 2 cans chickpeas, drained (~2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained)
½ - 1 small bunch of kale, sliced into ribbons
Salt and pepper to taste
 

  1. Sauté onion in olive oil, seasoning with salt. Cook to desired doneness (I like my onion soft). Add ginger and garlic when the onion is nearly done.
  2. Add potatoes, season with salt, stir, then add 1 quart stock. Add additional stock and/or water as needed.
  3. Simmer until potatoes begin to get tender. Mash potatoes as desired.
  4. Add chickpeas and return to simmer
  5. Add as much kale as looks good, knowing that it will wilt a little. Season with salt and stir. Cook until kale is to desired tenderness. Kale sliced small cooks quickly.
  6. Taste and correct seasonings.


ptions:

  • Use another type of sausage, as desired
  • Use a different oil for sautéing.
  • Use half sausage, half chickpeas
  • Use canned or cooked lentils instead of chickpeas. If you want to use dry lentils add stock and lentils and let simmer for 15-30 minutes before adding sweet potatoes.
  • Use another green in place of kale. Collards wilt less than kale, spinach will wilt more, for example. Mustard is a good flavor to use with sausage with sausage.
  • Use microgreens in place of larger greens. Choose based on flavor (e.g., I love pea microgreens but do not see adding them to this soup. I’d choose radish, but ymmv.) Also, add immediately before serving.
Heather Cross