The summer of 2009 was a scorcher. We had several bursts of hot weather along with a heck of a lot of warm weather. This sort of summer is perfect for sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes require a warmer overall soil temperature for longer periods than the average tuber, and so that’s why you don’t often see them at the farmers markets. After the warm summer of 2009, we had a bumper crop from several different vendors. Flash forward one year to the summer of 2010. Cold, cool, rainy, drizzly… this summer was anything but hot. So I wasn’t planning on seeing sweet potatoes this year at all. But the farmers surprised me and there have been sweet potatoes at the Ballard Farmers Market the last few weeks.
I love sweet potatoes. They can be crispy and crunchy when fried, or unbelievably creamy when baked, mashed, or stewed. This recipe is of the creamy variety. You can vary this in any number of different ways, so this is one recipe you’ll never tire of. Cook it a little less and you have soup. Cook it a little longer and you’ve got stew. Serve it over rice, or even cold over some lettuce. Not only is it delicious, but it is filling and healthy.
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Stew, adapted from Ready Made
- 1-2 Tbsp oil (olive or canola…or lard)
- 2 pounds of sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 onion, large dice
- 1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced, or 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 3 cups vegetable broth or water
- 2 cups cooked black beans
- 2 cups diced tomatoes
- Heat the oil n a large Dutch oven or covered soup pot over medium heat.
- Add the sweet potatoes, onion, red pepper, jalapeno, and garlic.
- Stir to coat and saute for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft.
- Add the spices (chili powder, cumin, and cayenne).
- Cover the pot and cook for 7-8 more minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are fork tender .
- Add the vegetable broth, blacked beans, and tomatoes.
- Bring the pot to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pot to loosen any browned bits.
- Cook for another 15 minutes.
- Either serve as a soup, seasoned with salt and pepper, or continue to cook for another 10 minutes or so, stirring regularly, until the soup has reduced into more of a stew consistency.
Notes: This was a fantastic dish. We didn’t have fresh peppers on hand, so I threw a few of the peppers we dried over the summer and they rehydrated nicely. You can vary the spices according to your taste. As the recipe is written, it’s got a bit of a kick to it, but if you wanted a more mild dish, you could accomplish that easily with different types of peppers. This was pure comfort food that was low in fat, high in fiber, and very filling.
Variations and Substitutions
- For a milder soup or stew, use a sweet bell pepper instead of a hot red pepper. You can also leave out the jalapeno.
- We used tomatoes that we canned this summer, but you could use canned or even sundried with a little extra broth.
- Since we didn’t have any vegetable broth on hand, I actually melted a small pat of butter in with the oil at the beginning of the recipe to give the stew just a bit more depth. Of course you wouldn’t want to do this if you’re going for a vegan recipe.
- If you don’t have black beans, you could substitute pinto beans.
- Kabocha or butternut squash would work in place of the sweet potatoes.
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