Nutty sweet potato soup with harissa and spinach (4-6 servings)

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This year's inaugural Vegan MoFo recipe comes from the October 2011 issue of Vegetarian Times. (The recipe hasn't been posted online yet.) It's a spicy, slightly smoky soup that's on the thin side yet still filling. Searching the county for a tube of harissa was worth it!

You will need:

  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium leeks, white and light green parts sliced thinly and rinsed of grit
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp harissa paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 3 1/2 cups vegetable broth (low sodium-if possible)
  • 3 oz (2 packed cups) spinach leaves, thinly sliced (use a pizza wheel!)
  • crushed peanuts for garnish

Steps:

  1. Heat oil in a stockpot over medium-high heat. Add leeks and saute for 5-7 minutes.
  2. Stir in the tomato paste, peanut butter, harissa, garlic, turmeric, and cumin; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  3. Add sweet potatoes, broth, and 1 1/2 cups water; simmer over medium-low heat, partially covered, for 20-25 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender.
  4. Blend the mixture with an immersion blender, adding more water if soup is too thick. (It definitely wasn't for me.) Stir in the spinach leaves and garnish with crushed peanuts.

Going by the picture in the magazine, I was expecting a thicker soup -- one more the consistency of potato-leek soup. However, this is much thinner and not as velvety. The flavors are still amazing though. I might try to make this again and use less liquid or add in another thickener. I also might try to change up the way I slice the sweet potatoes, as the thin rounds stuck together and didn't cook evenly in some places.

But this is definitely a great starting place with intriguing flavors and warming spices. I'd imagine it would be delicious with chipotles instead of the harissa, too!