October 20, 2011

spicy sweet potato and coconut soup

Last week I didn't cook...or at least I don't remember cooking anything. It was one of those weeks.

We had frozen pizza, we went out to eat, we ate at people's houses (by invitation)...

I just wasn't in the mood for it. Does that happen to you? The thought of making a mess in the kitchen (usually something that makes me pretty happy) sounded hugely unappealing. I didn't have anything I really wanted to make. I was completely uninspired. (violins)

This week was looking like it was going to be another one of those weeks. Monday was busy and I didn't get to the store to stock our empty-from-last-week fridge, so we got fried chicken for dinner. Yup. We even did a fried chicken tasting: KFC vs. Popeye's, just because we thought we'd better figure out once and for all where we need to be getting all of our future fried chicken. (In case you're wondering, KFC won for chicken, but Popeye's had the better mashed potatoes. Biscuits were a toss up, but I think it goes to Popeye's as well.)

high-qual iphone pic

 So Monday night, after our fried feast, as I sitting on the couch doing whatever it is that I do on the computer, my husband started this movie. I was all, "what are we watching?" as I looked up from the computer. Then suddenly I became completely engrossed in the movie. I think I even put my computer down. Watched the whole thing.

It was called Forks over Knives. Maybe you've heard of it. It's a documentary about our meat-and-dairy saturated culture and how so many of our health problems can likely be treated by a plant-centered diet.

Okay. Normally I find these things interesting at best, I give them a listen, maybe a smile and a nod, an "I-appreciate-your-point-of-view" eyebrow raise, but inside I know that I couldn't give up juicy hamburgers and milkshakes for quinoa and green beans. I don't like to get too radical or extreme about these things, and I most certainly don't like limitations.

But suddenly veganism had never seemed so appealing. Naturally a movie like that will make meat look horrible, and it did it's job.

After the movie, I asked my husband what he thought about trying a plant-centered diet, just for a week. (Who am I?) He agreed. (What a guy!)

Apparently that was what I needed to be inspired to cook again. I stayed up for another hour or so, researching vegan recipes to make for the week and assembling my grocery list. I was PUMPED.

So we embark on this mini adventure...emphasis on mini. We're doing this for fun/experimentation, to see how we feel and to see how it works for us. We're not going to be strict about it. If some feta finds it's way into my vegetarian sandwich, I'm not going to kick it out. If hub needs an egg for breakfast, I ain't gon stop him. It's the only way I could do something like this anyway. If I were to adopt it as a lifestyle choice, it would be more of a guideline than a rule. I told you how I feel about limitations. Same goes for deprivation. Is that the same thing?

I'm pretty excited about it though. Highlights so far include: some absolutely killer butternut squash fries, marvelous carrot cake oatmeal, and this sweet potato and coconut soup. I just realized those are all orange foods. Weird.

Anyway. This soup is so so good. (I seem to have run out of adjectives at this time. Forgive me.) It's creamy and a little sweet with a nice kick to it from the ginger and red curry paste. I would make it any day, vegan diet or not.

Stay tuned for more vegan-week adventures and a recap. And less-wordy posts.

Spicy Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup 
Recipe lightly adapted from here

Serves 6

1 1/2 pounds orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 2-inch chunks
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 (2 inch) piece fresh ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon red curry paste
1 (15 ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
3 cups vegetable broth
3 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon sea salt (or more, to taste)
Fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro 

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and ginger; cook and stir until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the curry paste and heat for 1 minute, then whisk in the coconut milk and vegetable broth. Add the potatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until potatoes are soft, about 20-25 minutes, or longer if necessary. 

Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth. (Or transfer the soup to a normal blender, in batches, then return it to the pot when blended.)

Stir in the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Adjust seasonings to taste. Ladle into bowls and garnish with a drizzle of the sesame oil and some cilantro.


  1. Wow! the sweet potato, coconut soup actually looks good. I'm curious what kinds of recipes you come up with. Not sure if I could do that kind of diet (maybe I could if it included a little cheese).

  2. Your story is SO similar to my own. I watched Forks Over Knives a few months ago and have since adapted a largely vegan-influenced diet. Much like yourself and not loving limitations, my spouse & I do eat cheese on occasion, and we did eat the meat remaining in our freezer...but we're pretty much rocking a plant-based, whole foods diet these days and I have to say I LOVE it.

    I write a blog about gift-giving (canadiangiftguide.com) and I've spent this past month (Vegetarian Awareness Month) writing a few posts on Forks Over Knives and the like, including a few recipes. Feel free to read, and good luck with your experiment! I never thought I could do it, but having a relaxed vegan diet has been amazing, and way easier than I thought.

  3. Brittany-wow! That's awesome! I'm loving it too.
    I'll be sure to check out your blog too!