• Sweet potato soup with harissa and peanut butter

    Photo: Randy Graham, Valley Vegetarian

    Spicy Sweet Potato Soup with Peanut Butter and Harissa Spices.

    You probably have a favorite sweet potato soup recipe that you make each winter. Have you considered adding peanut butter to yours? How about harissa and fresh lemon juice?

    “I already make my soup with peanut butter,” you say, “but what the heck is harissa? Why would I use lemon juice?”

    Harissa is North Africa’s favorite hot sauce condiment. The word for this fiery Tunisian chile paste is derived from the Arabic verb harasa, “to pound” because it is traditionally made with mortar and pestle. For many of my recipes I make the harissa myself. For this recipe, I use store-bought harissa to save prep time. Lemon juice is a subtle compliment to the harissa.

    Spice up your version of sweet potato soup using harissa and lemon juice or make the vegan version below. I think you’ll like it. One word of caution: If really spicy is not your thing, consider cutting the harissa to either two teaspoons or to one teaspoon (instead of the full tablespoon).

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 medium leeks (white and light green parts sliced thin)
    3 tablespoon tomato paste
    3 tablespoons creamy natural peanut butter
    1 tablespoon harissa paste
    2 cloves garlic (minced)
    1 teaspoon ground turmeric
    ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
    2 sweet potatoes (peeled and sliced ¼-inch thick)
    4 cups vegetable broth
    1 cup water
    ¼ cup crushed peanuts (for garnish)
    ¼ cup green onions (chopped)
    Fresh lemon wedges (for garnish)

    Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add leeks, and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, peanut butter, harissa, garlic, turmeric, and cumin; cook 1 minute more while constantly stirring. Add sweet potatoes, broth, water, and simmer over medium-low heat, partially covered, for 20 to 25 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender.

    Transfer mixture to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and blend adding more water if soup is too thick. To serve, garnish with peanuts, green onions and fresh lemon wedges on the side.

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