A basic mix of a few starchy and aromatic vegetables yields a tasty and distinctive Corn and Sweet Potato Soup.
The American sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) is a New World tuber only distantly related to the true nightshade potato, an association more superficial than botanical. Often mistakenly called a yam (which is an African plant), the sweet potato has a soft, starchy orange flesh with a fair amount of beta-carotene and complex carbohydrates (that is, sugar).
Combine sweet potato with another starchy American vegetable—corn, maize, the sugar-rich cereal grain grown for human consumption—and you have the base of a delectable stew that can be steered either savory or sweet. The base vegetables and stock are the recipe here; whatever herbs, oils and spices are chosen to enhance it are at the cook’s discretion and preference.
The lime, cumin and bell pepper specified in this recipe are deliberately of a Southwestern US flavor, and work well with any sort of Mexican garnish. For a Chinese spin, play around with five-spice powder and sesame oil; for more of a Southeast Asian influence, use soy sauce and hot chile oil with fried shallots. Or just add cheese, white onion and fresh chopped cilantro for a generic yet full-bodied dish.
Likewise, this base can equally be a showcase for herbal additions. Fresh basil, thyme, Italian parsley and oregano can make a continental savory flavor. Add rosemary and balsamic vinegar for another richer aspect. And naturally, cured meats like prosciutto or Spanish chorizo can be added (or not) to individual taste.
Garnish with simple chopped scallions or chives, and with plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
Corn and Sweet Potato Soup
1 lb corn kernels
2 cloves of garlic
1 yellow onion
½ red bell pepper
1 sweet potato
4 c vegetable stock
2 t ground cumin
red chile flakes
1 Chop the onion and mince the garlic. Sauté both in the oil until softened, about 5 min. Add chile flakes and season to taste.
2 Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 min.
3 Peel and dice the sweet potato. Add to the pot with the cumin and simmer an additional 10 min.
4 Dice the bell pepper and add along with the corn. Simmer for another 10 min.
5 Purée about 1-2 c of the soup until smooth, then add back to the pot. Finish with lime juice and chopped scallions.