Sweet Potato & Coconut Soup
This is one of those rich, warm and filling kinds of soup, ideal to stave off the chilling cold during winter season. Sweet potatoes are filled with all sorts of 'good-for-you' nutrients, so that is an added bonus. This soup keeps well, so it can be prepared ahead of time and warmed up when required. You can enjoy it simply as it is, or with some croutons or toasted bread.
Peel and chop the sweet potatoes into cubes. Rinse them well to get rid of the excess starch. Drain and put them in a pan, add enough water to cover them and 1 tsp. of salt. Simmer on medium heat until the potatoes are fork-tender. Drain and drizzle 1 tbsp. of melted butter over them. Lay them out on a tray and put the tray in a hot oven for about 10 minutes, turning the potatoes once midway to make sure they are evenly roasted. This step helps caramelise the natural sugars found in the sweet potatoes which brings out the sweetness even more.
If you like, you can roast the boiled and buttered potatoes on a lightly greased frying pan on the stove top over medium heat, turning them over regularly until they start to turn golden.
While they are roasting, heat 1 tbsp of butter or oil in a pan, then add the chopped onions and fry until they are transluscent but not completely brown. Add the garlic and ginger pastes, the chilli flakes or chopped red chilli. Then add the cumin, turmeric and black pepper powders. Give them a stir for half a minute then put the roasted sweet potato cubes in. Turn the heat down and stir them for a few minutes so they get coated with the lovely spices. Then add 2 cups of warm water and some salt. Turn down the heat, cover the pan and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes, giving an occasional stir until the water has reduced slightly and the potatoes are completely tender.
Turn off the heat and blend everything into a smooth paste either using an immersion/stick blender or allow everything to cool slightly then us a regular processor or blender.
Put the mixture back into the pan and add the coconut milk. Simmer for 10 more minutes and adjust salt and spice. If the soup feels too thick, add more warm water. If it is too thin, simmer it a bit longer until it thickens. Finally, squeeze in some lemon juice, give it a final stir and turn off the heat.
If you use white-fleshed sweet potatoes, the soup will have a creamier colour. You can add food colouring if you want a vivid orange colour, but that is entirely optional. The taste will be just as good either way.
You can garnish with some reserved coconut milk when serving in the bowls.