You know how grain bowls are all the rage? Forget them. In the dead of winter, you need a soup bowl. What’s a soup bowl, you ask? Good question, since I just made it up. Basically, you take the same concept of a grain bowl, which layers grains with different flavors and textures, but here the base is a thick and creamy (but vegan) sweet potato soup, which gets topped with a mound of rice, frizzled kale, tart green apples and crunchy peanuts. The soup is delicious on its own (that’s how my kids prefer it), but it’s made even better by the toppings.
Soup bowls, the next big (or ancient) fad…
Whenever I have leftover soup for lunch, I almost always slide in cooked grains, greens, and/or a handful of salad (which I usually make to serve on the side, but inevitably end up dumping in the soup). The greens brighten up the soup, and the grains add substance. I always felt like this was some strange food fetish (like how I like to eat with my hands when nobody is watching), but then I realized that liquids have been joyfully mingling with grains and greens for centuries (think Thai curries over rice, Italian stews with farro, Vietnamese pho with rice noodles and fresh herbs…). Duh!
Simple (but stellar) sweet potato soup
The soup base is so simple, but filled with flavor. Sweet potatoes and green apple create a sweet and silky soup with undertones of ginger and curry (if you’re not into curry powder, the soup is still delicious without it). The sweetness of the soup is counterbalanced by a tangle of garlicky, slightly caramelized kale, and a big spoonful of rice (quinoa would also be great). A sprinkle of peanuts (or pecans or pepitas) and minced green apple lend a salty-sweet-tart crunch. It’s pretty much my lunchtime—or anytime—nirvana. Just don’t judge if you see me eating bits of kale off my soup with my hands. Or hell, give it a try. People have been doing it for centuries.
Make it a grain bowl!
This is an addendum. Yesterday I went to warm up a bowl of soup for lunch, but realized that my two-year-old had stolen most of it for her lunch (damn kids). Instead, I flipped the soup bowl on its head and started with a base of quinoa, followed by the frizzled kale, then a drizzle of the soup as a sauce over top, along with toasted peanuts. Heavens to Betsy! The soup is also a killer sauce for grain bowls!
Get the recipe!
Curried Sweet Potato Soup Bowls with Frizzled Greens, Apples & Peanuts (Vegan)
For the soup:
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium sweet onion (or 1 large leek), diced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large garlic cloves , minced
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 3 medium potatoes), peeled and diced
- ¼ green apple , cored and diced
- 2 cups low-sodium broth
- 1 ¾ cups water , plus more as needed
For the toppings:
- 2 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil
- 1 large garlic clove , thinly sliced
- 6 large kale leaves , stemmed and thinly sliced
- Cooked rice or quinoa , for serving
- ½ green apple , cored and very finely chopped
- Chopped toasted peanuts , pecans or pepitas, for serving
For the soup, melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until softened but not browned, about 3-5 minutes.
Add the garlic, ginger, curry powder and cinnamon. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the sweet potatoes and apple, and stir to coat. Pour in the broth and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are nice and soft, about 10 minutes.
Puree the soup in a blender (or you can use a hand blender), adding more water if needed to thin. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Do Ahead: The soup can be cooled and refrigerated for up to 5 days.
For the frizzled kale, heat the oil in a large skillet until shimmering. Add the garlic and cook 10 seconds. Drop in the kale (stand back, it might sputter!), and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring every now and again, until the kale is browned and crisp in spots, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a plate or bowl.
To serve, ladle the soup into wide, shallow bowls. Top with a mound of rice or quinoa (I use an ice cream scoop). Pile the frizzled kale on top, and sprinkle with the finely chopped apples and nuts.