Three gorgeous long, white leeks and a five-pound bag of organic yams gave me an idea. I’d make my favorite Country-Style Leek & Potato Soup with sweet potatoes and yams instead of russets and Yukon golds. Until I looked online, I was sure this was an original idea. What a surprise to discover that others had preceded me in creating their own versions of Sweet Potato Leek Soup.
There is lots of variation in those recipes. Though, most include flour as a thickener and a good measure of cream for texture and richness.
My recipe contains neither. This gorgeous golden-orange soup becomes rich and velvety, thick and chunky from puréeing a portion of the cooked sweet potatoes, yams and leeks. The swirl of fresh spinach added just before serving adds silkiness and color. The fresh cilantro and scallion garnish provide an extra bright burst of flavor in each bite. A most satisfying and comforting soup that’s also non-dairy and gluten-free.
Sweet Potatoes and Yams
Since the 1950’s there has been a bit of confusion in the U.S. around sweet potatoes and yams. That’s when the red-skinned, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes were introduced as “yams” to the American public. They’re “yam” label was to differentiate them from the white-skinned and fleshed variety that shoppers already knew.
The real difference between the two actually has to do with their texture when cooked—dry and firm or soft and moist. In the U.S. the soft, moist (and sweeter) ones are “yams” and the dry and firmer textured ones are sweet potatoes.
It’s your choice. Whether soft or firm, dry or moist, they are one of the healthiest and nutrient-rich vegetables you can eat.
Cooked and puréed sweet potatoes, yams and leeks (rather than cream and flour) give this soup its golden-orange hue, rich, velvety consistency, thick and chunky texture and naturally sweet flavor. Vegan, dairy and gluten-free.
Prepare your own Basic Vegetable Stock from the recipe below. Alternatively, purchase vegetable stock or use water and one of the Organic Better than Bouillon bases diluted to taste or according to the directions on the jar.
Makes about 14 cups Printer-Friendly Recipe
Start to Finish 1¼ hours, including 35 minutes cooking time
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 cups thinly sliced leeks, white and light green parts only
8 cups ½-inch diced, peeled sweet potatoes, stored in water
3 cups ½-inch diced, peeled yams, stored in water
½ teaspoon sea salt
Dozen twists freshly ground pepper
2 large sprigs of fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
8 cups water or vegetable stock
3 packed cups fresh baby spinach
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Thinly sliced scallions
Fresh cilantro leaves
- Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Stir in the sliced leeks. Drain the diced sweet potatoes and yams and add them to the pot.
- Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of salt and a dozen twists of freshly ground pepper. Stir in the thyme and bay leaves. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the stock or water. Bring the soup to a boil. If using bouillon paste, add it now. Lower the heat so the soup simmers, partially covered, for 20 minutes. The sweet potatoes and yams will be quite tender.
- Use a blender to purée one-fourth of the soup until very smooth and creamy. Return the purée to the pot.
- Adjust the salt to taste.
- Just before serving, swirl in the fresh spinach until wilted.
- Serve Sweet Potato Leek Soup with Fresh Spinach garnished with thinly sliced scallions and leaves of fresh cilantro.
Basic Vegetable Stock
When you have the time, make your own vegetable stock.
The dark green leaves from the leeks
1 cup each of roughly chopped carrots and celery
2 cloves of peeled, smashed garlic
6 parsley stems
2 bay leaves
Two sprigs of fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon of dried thyme
12 cups of water
- Place everything in a soup pot. Bring the stock to a boil. Simmer, half covered, for 1 hour.
- After an hour, strain and measure the stock. If you have less than called for in the recipe, add enough additional water to equal the amount of stock required.