Sweet potato/pumpkin ale soup with chermoula spice

sweet potato pinto bean soup

We got the world’s largest sweet potato this week, from Honey Brook Organic Farm, our local CSA. So I made a soup! The mild sweetness of the sweet potato is offset by sharp, bold flavors modeled on a Moroccan chermoula sauce. I used pumpkin ale, because the slightly sweet/slightly spicy quality went well with everything else. But you could use any type of beer you have on hand. Or a bit of wine. Or even apple cider. And I added pinto beans, which I love because of their wonderful creamy texture when smooshed, and their savory appealing flavor.

As it happens, sweet potatoes have inspired many wonderful songs! Here are a few to listen to while you stir your soup.

About 4 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch dice
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
olive oil
1 large shallot
2 cloves garlic
1 cup pumpkin ale
1 t. cumin
1 (heaping) t. smoked paprika
red pepper flakes – to desired hotness
1 cup loosely packed cilantro (if you’re a cilantro-hater, you can use basil)
1 T butter
juice of half a lemon (or to taste)
1 T brown sugar (or to taste)
salt and plenty of pepper

1. Warm the olive oil in a large pot. Add shallot and garlic, cook till they start to brown.

2. Add the sweet potato and stir till it’s all coated and starts to soften. Add the paprika, cumin, red pepper and pinto beans. Stir and cook for a few minutes.

3. Add the beer, be sure to scrape the spices from the bottom of the pan, and stir and cook until the liquid is thick and starts to turn syrupy, and until the sweet potato starts to soften. (maybe 15 minutes?)

4. Add water to cover, bring to a boil, then lower the heat, partially cover, and simmer until the sweet potatoes are soft.

5. Add the butter and lemon juice. Blend in batches until it’s nice and smooth. Pour it back into the pot. Season with plenty of salt and pepper, and taste for sweetness. I found it needed about 1 T of brown sugar to balance the other strong flavors.

6. Chop the cilantro finely. Stir most of it in, but save some out for garnish.

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