Home Cook
Feb 2011

Sweet Potato Black Bean Soup

The other night my roommates and went out to eat at a real, sit-down restaurant , something we don't do very often with the state of our finances. It was a treat. I had the poblano peppers (quite good, if not great), but what I didn't have was more interesting.

The earnest waitperson (all good waitpeople convey earnestness, don't you think?) advised us that the soup of the day was Black Bean, Sweet Potato, Corn and Tomato, with Cilantro. Goodness, I thought, I have all those things at home, including fresh cilantro from the farmers' box that we get. I was curious to taste it, thinking that would guide me later, but didn't order it. Too much food and too little budget, after all.

However, this is what we had for dinner at home the next night:

Sweet Potato Black Bean Soup with Cilantro

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced small (perhaps 1/2 to 3/4 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp (more or less) chili powder

1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced small (perhaps 1-1/2 to 2 cups)
1 28 oz can petite-cut diced tomatoes
1 15 oz can sweet corn
1 15 oz can black beans
1 cup (maybe a bit more) water or chicken stock
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp (more or less) fresh cilantro, minced

In a large pan over low heat, saute the onion in the olive oil until it is soft. Add the minced garlic, saute briefly, then add the chili powder. Cook the powder briefly with the vegetables, then add the canned goods, sweet potatoes, salt and cilantro. Add sufficient water or stock to make a good soup consistency. Bring to a boil, turn down heat, and simmer until the sweet potatoes are tender, 20-30 minutes. Check seasonings; add another shake of chili powder if desired. Serve in bowls with a little fresh cilantro on top.

I actually made this in a crock pot, for about two hours on high. Super simple to make and very tasty.

I thought about using Rotel-style tomatoes, but I think the chilies would overwhelm the sweet potatoes and cilantro. Might try it that way, though, with the "mild" version.

Note that if you use water instead of stock, it's vegan. You could also skip the extra liquid and have a stew to be served over rice.

(I really have to start taking pictures for the recipes, but by the time I thought about it, the soup was gone!)

Waking up Hungry

As many of you know, especially if you are readers of my other blog, I lost my husband last year. This one I didn't just misplace, I lost him for good.

The last entry in this blog is practically to the day when he was diagnosed with cancer. Talk about a day that was a game-changer, if I might lapse into (more) cliche(s) (than usual). It was a kitchen changer, too. This blog was a journal of what I was cooking for us. But Isaac hand an anal/rectal cancer, and later a colonostomy. Everything we fed him became part of the therapy. His food choices and my cooking went from "what are you in the mood for, honey?" to 101 Ways to Turn Ensure® into a Smoothie.

And then he was gone.

My heart went out of cooking, and out of writing about it. I didn't have much more to say than would have fit in a Tweet: "Sandwiches again today. Really like the new brand of spelt bread." "Laloo's® Goat’s Milk Ice Cream is better in strawberry than vanilla." Maybe I should have gone on Twitter then.

Instead, I decided to revive what had been Isaac's and my joint blog, Views from the Cyberhenge. It's more general and magical; I might not have ever talked about food there. I'm on Facebook now, too, and even Twitter, with this little blog sitting forlorn in a dusty corner of the Interwebs.

Last November, I moved back down to North Carolina, where I had lived a for number of years before Isaac and I moved in together. I have friends here, and having been staying with friends while I decide what is my Next Best Move in Live. In a household of three people, I have started cooking again. Nothing fancy, just home cooking.

Last night I made something so simple but so good, I thought it would be a shame if I didn't make a note of the recipe. Then, I thought, if I'm going to type it up anyway (isn't it interesting that we write things down but type things up?) I might as well put it up on the blog. And so I shall; if not today, soon.

So, I have officially revived this blog as an occasional journal of what I'm cooking and what I'm thinking about food and food culture. For more regular updates about where I am in the world, check out Views from the Cyberhenge, Twitter, or Facebook.