Making This Recipe My Own
Wonderfully fragrant Roasted Sweet Potato Chowder simmered on the stove filling the kitchen with warmth and us with expectation. A winter snow made this the perfect day for reworking and refining this chowder recipe for the third time. I’d already made a number of changes such as altering the technique, adding yams and celery and including my new favorite Aleppo pepper flakes. With each adaptation the recipe becomes more and more my own.
Now you’re cooking With all the changes I make to recipes, I’m not offended when you tell me you add mushrooms or a chile or leave out the garlic or cilantro or grill instead of roast. Do make recipes your own. Learn some basic techniques and then follow your inspiration. No problem if next time you want to prepare it differently. It’s all part of the creativity and joy of cooking.
Soups take especially well to improvisation Oven-roasted vegetables, mild and flavorful poblano chiles, fresh cilantro and aromatic spices. Each ingredient adds another layer of Southwestern flavor. The Roasted Sweet Potato Chowder became richer in flavor and a deeper shade of harvest gold once the sweet potatoes were joined with an equal amount of orange-fleshed yams. By puréeing some of the cooked potatoes and other vegetables, the soup became naturally creamier without the need for flour or cream. Chef Michael Stebner’s original addition of coconut milk adds to the rich flavor and creamy texture and balances the spices ever so brilliantly.
Poblano/Pasilla confusion All of our local markets label these beautifully deep green, wide and mild poblano [poh-BLAH-noh] peppers as “pasillas.” [pah-SEE-yah] True pasillas are actually the dried form of a long and narrow chilaca pepper. Consider this info a heads-up. The mislabeling of these peppers happens repeatedly in markets north of the Rio Grande. Whatever the label happens to read, I’m delighted to find these fresh poblano/pasilla peppers here in southwest Montana.
Be my Valentine With its rich flavors and deep shades of gold, green and yellow, this gorgeous Roasted Sweet Potato Chowder with Poblano Chiles & Corn easily won over our palates and our hearts. A most sensuous soup for a Valentine’s Day menu. BTW, herbalists believe chiles an aphrodisiac.
Inspired by and adapted from a recipe in Dr. Andrew Weil, Sam Fox and Chef Michael Stebner’s cookbook True Food. Nutritionally rich and boldly flavored. Vegan, non-dairy and gluten-free. Roasted Sweet Potato Chowder with its Southwestern flavors and deep shades of gold, green and yellow makes other chowders pale in comparison.
Makes 10 servings
Active Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2¼ hours
1½-2 pounds peeled sweet potatoes, ½-inch dice (6-7 cups)
1½-2 pounds peeled yams, ½-inch dice (6-7 cups)
1 onion, halved, sliced thinly pole to pole and then halved again
1¾ cups carrots, 1/3-inch dice
1¾ cups celery, 1/3-inch dice
2 poblano chiles, halved, seeded, 1/3-inch dice (about 2 cups)
1½ cups frozen organic corn, defrosted OR one 15-ounce can organic corn, drained, liquid reserved
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1½ teaspoons salt
2 bay leaves
6 cups water (include reserved liquid from the corn if you use canned corn)
1 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
Salt to taste
3-4 scallions thinly sliced
¾ cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
- Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Line two rimmed baking pans with parchment paper.
- Toss all of the vegetables together in a large bowl with the olive oil.
- Divide the vegetables evenly between the two baking pans.
- Roast the vegetables for 15 minutes. Raise the heat to 475 degrees. Toss the vegetables on the pan and roast for another 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the vegetables stay in the oven while you toast the spices.
- Place a soup pot over medium high heat. When hot, stir in the chili powder, cumin, turmeric and Aleppo pepper till fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Remove the roasted vegetables from the oven. Stir them into the spices. Stir in the oregano, bay leaves and salt.
- Add the water, cover the pan, and bring the soup to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and simmer the soup, partially covered, for 20 minutes.
- Use a blender to puree 3 cups of the soup. Return it to the pot along with the coconut milk. Use another ½ – ¾ cup of water to rinse out the blender and the empty coconut milk can before adding this water to the pot.
- Adjust the salt to taste. Serve Sweet Potato Chowder with Poblano Chiles & Corn garnished with a sprinkling of both the scallions and the cilantro.