I love soup — not only warm, thick soups to heat me up in the winter but cold soups like gazpacho and cucumber yogurt to cool me down in the summertime. I keep a spoon and bowl at my desk at work. I eat it for breakfast. I own more than one soup cookbook. So when I read that January is National Soup Month, and the 22nd is National Soup Swap Day, I got excited.
The soup I have here is not for everyone, including my mother and Julia Child. It’s a sweet potato cilantro soup with chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. If the thought of putting cilantro into anything makes you cringe, you’re not the only one, and it’s not your fault. As food scientist Harold McGee writes, some people actually have a genetic disposition to hating the herb, but that it can be improved over time.
But I love this soup. It’s got a bit of a kick, so feel free to cut down on the chipotle peppers, or even leave them out. The marriage of sweet potato and cilantro might be enough for some, but if you love a little heat, go for it! I make this soup in a pressure cooker, so it takes about 7 minutes to cook. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, it’ll just take a bit longer. I also have an immersion blender, so I puree it directly in the pot. If you use a regular blender or food processor, do it in small batches and be very careful. Put a towel over the top of the machine to prevent any of the hot soup from spraying out. If you are concerned about processing the hot liquid, allow the soup to cool beforehand.
The potatoes don’t need to be diced perfectly, but make them around the same size so they all cook at the same time. I keep the peppers in their can in the fridge, with a lid of tin foil. As long as the cilantro isn’t super gritty, I use the Rachael Ray method (no judgment!): swirl it around in a bowl with cold water.
Sweet Potato and Cilantro Soup with Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
4 medium shallots, peeled and chopped
2 chipotle peppers and about a teaspoon of their adobo sauce, chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium red potatoes, peeled and quartered
4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled, halved and cut into thirds
1 quart stock (a box of stock works perfectly)
A hearty handful of cilantro
Pinch of salt
Over medium heat, saute the shallots (with a dash of salt) and the peppers in their sauce in olive oil for about 7 minutes, until the shallots are wilted but have not started to brown. Add the garlic and cook about two minutes longer. Stir in the potatoes and sweet potatoes, and saute for 1-2 minutes. Add the stock and cook in pressure cooker for 7 minutes (double check your pressure cooker instructions for exact times on cooking potatoes), or reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, until the veggies are fork-tender, approximately 25 minutes. Add the cilantro and puree the soup. If the soup is too thick, add some extra stock or water. Check the soup for salt and pepper and serve.