Tuesday, April 12, 2011

African Yam Soup

There are many foods and flavors that systematically avoided until I became vegan. Until about three years ago, I refused to eat greens (raw or cooked), beans, peanut butter, popcorn, onions, anything spicy...(the list is quite long--too long and embarrassing for me to flesh it out here). When I became vegan, that all changed, almost overnight; when I stopped eating meat and dairy, I suddenly wanted and loved all those things that I'd previously refused to eat. From the way that I lovingly talk about massaged kale salad, you'd never be able to tell my previous mis-inclinations. Every now and then, however, when I read a new recipe, I am filled with the old qualms--especially if it's a soup recipe that includes ginger, garlic, cloves, cardamom, allspice, cinnamon, cumin, chile powder, cayenne pepper, orange juice, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, miso and peanut butter. Oh, did I mention that once I categorize a spice as either sweet or savory, I have a hard time using it for its opposite purpose? So when I saw the African Yam Soup in The Artful Vegan cookbook (the ingredients of which are, for the most part, listed above), I was intrigued, but very hesitant. How could orange juice and cinnamon ever go together with onions and tomatoes?!

Here's the truth: I'd recommended this soup to a friend a couple months ago, when she'd gotten into a food rut, and had all these extra sweet potatoes sitting around. I thought: this soup sounds so adventurous; maybe she'll try it and tell me how it tastes! Well, my friend loved the soup (and at the time I thought she was crazy). It took me these couple of months to work up the courage to try making it, and I'm sorry that I've waited this long. Once everything is cooked together, the soup gets blended, and served with cilantro and roasted peanuts. We stirred some leftover black beans into it--just for added texture--and ate this soup for lunches last week. It was spicy, and tangy, and satisfying; the orange juice and cinnamon that I was worried about so much gave it that extra depth and interest. 
And the soup also gave me a chance to use one of our last jars of spicy tomatoes that we put up last summer. Next year--as I've told myself numerous times already--I'll put up more tomatoes, and keep the recipe to this soup marked and on the ready once autumn begins.

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