Serves 6 to 8
Total time: 30 minutes || Active time: 15 minutes
Here’s the vision: vanilla bean and ginger holding hands in a field of sweet potato, with pretty bursts of lime lighting their way, and just a touch of heat.
This recipe came about when I looked in my pantry and screamed “Is there anything at all interesting in here???!?!” The vanilla beans were like “Uh, hello, try us in soup?” So what if my blog has accidentally tripped and fallen face first into a big soup pot? It’s March and it’s dreary, and I can hardly manage to tie my shoes on these gray days, never mind cooking something any more complicated than soup.
Plus, this one has special powers!
For one, the aromatherapy. Try to feel seasonal affective disorder as the delicious scents of ginger and vanilla waft through your abode.
For another, teleportation. I don’t know about you, but I don’t cook with vanilla every day. It took me on a much needed vacation away from my comfort zone, to a more intriguing place.
So my vision for this recipe was a short but sweet ingredient list with nothing superflous and nothing wasted. Pure, clean flavors. I suppose I wanted to be the Raymond Carver of soup. Hope you love it! And hopefully the next pic I post will look like spring, and not Thanksgiving. Haha.
[ed note: I wrote this yesterday, and today, the sun is actually shining!]
~ Everything gets pureed in the end, so don’t stress too much about chopping things too perfectly.
~ My favorite method of scraping the vanilla bean is to slice the bean across the waist, using a steak knife. The slice each half lengthwise, and use the steak knife to scrape out all the delicious vanilla beaniness.
~ My little container of vanilla beans reminded me not to discard the skin! Throw empty vanilla skins into a cup of sugar, cover, and let it sit around for a week or so, giving a stir every now again. BOOM! You have vanilla sugar. Put it in your coffee or something delicious like that.
~ Not really a note, but I know that yams are not botanically sweet potatoes, and I’ll be deleting all comments that yell at me about it. (Yes, people yell at me about yams sometimes. It happens!)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced medium
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 lbs garnet yams, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (tip to use a steak knife)
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Preheat a 4-quart soup pot over medium heat. Saute the onions in oil with a pinch of salt for about 3 minutes, until translucent. Add ginger and red pepper flakes, and saute another minute or so.
Add yams, veggie broth and salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat a bit to a slow simmer and cook until potatoes are tender – usually 5 more minutes or so.
Once tender, add the vanilla beans. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth. Or transfer the soup in batches to a blender or food processor to puree. Be sure to let the steam escape in between pulses so that the steam doesn’t build up and explode all over you. Then transfer the soup back to the pot.
Add maple syrup and lime and taste for salt. Thin with a little water, if necessary. You can eat immediately, but the flavor develops a lot as it sits. The lime mellows out and the vanilla becomes more pronounced, especially the next day. Serve garnished with lime, if you like. You may also want to do a coconut swirl, or something like that, if you’re feeling fancy.