Monday, May 10, 2010

Spicy Sweet Potato and Tomato Soup from The South Beach Diet Super Quick Cookbook

First off, I want to wish a heartfelt, yet belated, Happy Mother's Day to all you beautiful moms out there! And especially to Mama Diva ... the greatest mom a girl could have! Love you the *most* Mama Diva! I hope you all had a spectacular day.

Talk about timing - no sooner did I post my Pitch Policy, when a copy of The South Beach Diet Super Quick Cookbook showed up in my mailbox for review. And I couldn't be happier about it!

The South Beach Diet Super Quick Cookbook, due to be released from Rodale Books on May 11, 2010, is the most interesting South Beach Diet cookbook to date. They have not only expanded their section of Phase 1 & 2 recipes, they've branched out to include some really fabulous ingredients as well. I was delighted to note the use of chickpea flour, flaxmeal and agave nectar, as well as a much expanded meatless meals section in this new offering. The book also includes a wide variety of ethnic meals, such as: Thai Vegetable Stew, African Red Bean Stew, and Coconut Shrimp Curry. All of which combine to make this not simply a "diet cookbook" but a cookbook that foodies can love as well!

A brief word about the diet before we move on. For those unfamiliar, the South Beach Diet is not a no-carb diet. While it is true that carbs are limited during the initial two week period (Phase 1), the intent of the diet is not to eliminate carbs but rather to encourage the choice of healthy, whole grain and high fiber carbs over simple sugars. And, honestly, you can skip the first phase and move right to Phase 2, if you like. Phase 2 allows for whole grains, whole grain breads and pastas, sweet potatoes, and more. In fact, I'm willing to bet that many of you are already eating the South Beach way without even realizing it.

Preceding the recipes, the book offers tips on budget conscious shopping, stocking your pantry, maximizing use of your freezer, as well as suggestions for: Meals for Two, Grab and Go Breakfasts and Lunches, and even Post Work-out Snacking. Its not only a cookbook, its a wonderful resource, dedicated to my favorite topic - eating well with an eye toward health.

Today, I'm featuring my take on The South Beach Diet Super Quick Cookbook's Spiced Sweet Potato and Tomato soup. I have adapted this recipe from the book, changing both the method of preparation and the ingredients to suit my tastes.

Spicy Sweet Potato and Tomato Soup ... Diva's Way:
  • 1 1/4 pounds of sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, peeled and minced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into small dice
  • small pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • pinch of Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ras el Hanout
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • one 14.5 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes with jalapeno
  • 1 3/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
  • 1/4 cup of grated aged Gruyere cheese
  • 2 tablespoons non-fat milk
  • some chopped fresh parsley or cilantro for garnish
  • some freshly popped popcorn for garnish
1. Using a vegetable steamer, steam the sweet potatoes until fork tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from steamer and reserve.

2. In a soup or stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and, when hot, add the shallots, carrots, a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes and a pinch of Kosher salt, and saute briefly, until the shallots are translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the ground coriander, the cumin, the Ras el Hanout, and the cinnamon and saute, stirring to blend, for one minute.

3. Add the entire can of diced tomatoes with jalapeno and stir to blend for one minute. Return the steamed sweet potatoes to the pot and add the vegetable (or chicken) broth, stirring to blend. Raise the heat to high and bring the soup to the boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

4. Remove the soup from the heat and, using an immersion blend, puree the soup until thick, creamy and smooth. (Alternately, you could use a blender or a food processor to puree the soup.) Return the soup to medium heat and add the shredded Gruyere cheese and 2 tablespoons of non-fat milk, stirring well, until the cheese has melted and is fully incorporated. Should the soup prove to thick for your liking, you may add a bit more broth to thin to desired consistency.

5. Serve immediately, garnished with some chopped fresh parsley or cilantro and some freshly popped popcorn to make it festive! Enjoy!

As written, this recipe will yield 4 (1 1/2 cup) servings.

The original recipe calls for the inclusion of "light spreadable cheese", rather than Gruyere ... but I just couldn't bring myself to add a processed cheese product to this lovely, wholesome soup. I've opted for the sharp Gruyere and a bit of skim milk here, but I'm certain you could leave the cheese and milk out altogether and still enjoy the marvelous flavor of this soup. The cheese does add a certain creaminess though, which is absolutely lovely. Do as you see fit.

This is a hearty, healthy, warmly spiced meal-in-a-bowl that is sure to satisfy and comfort dieters and non-dieters alike. I like so much I'll probably double the batch next time and freeze half for a quick reheat when needed.

I've also switched out the garnish, due to necessity ... the original calls for toasted pumpkin seeds, which would be fantastic ... but I didn't have any on hand. I've long enjoyed a bit of popcorn as a garnish for tomato soup, so I've resurrected that penchant here. Again, the choice is yours.

I'll be submitting this recipe to both Hey What's for Dinner Mom?'s Just Another Meatless Monday feature and Kahakai Kitchen's Souper Sundays feature.

Lastly, although I received my copy of The South Beach Diet Super Quick Cookbook for review, it is a book I would have purchased myself, just based on the index alone. I recommend it to dieters and non-dieters alike and I can't wait to explore it further. Its absolutely ... Divalicious!

Bon appetite!


Heavenly Housewife said...

I once tried a low carb diet and after two weeks i was completely miserable. If i ate just one more salad I probably would have thrown up.
Still, I gotta say, your soup looks fab daaaaahling.
*kisses* HH

Holly said...

This soup sounds yummy-like rainy day comfort food:)

Laura said...

YES!! this looks fantastic!

vilges suola said...

That looks and sounds beautiful, and I agree about the cheese. I think in fact I would probably omit it if I were cooking it for myself, as I'm not a fan of hot cheese, but I know people who'd love the gruyere.

That's brought back a memory. I went to Gruyere when I was 11, and visited the (a?) cheese factory. It stank. Boy, did it stink. Many years later in the autobiography of Anthony Burgess I read how A.B. remembered working in a mortuary, which he said smelled like a cheese factory. There's something very animal about all food, is there not? Even the colours we most appreciate are flesh, blood, and other bodily exudations. Try selling blue spaghetti.

Enjoy the soup, everybody.

Molly said...

I thought that looked like popcorn!! I like how you roll.

thanks for another idea for sweet potatoes....and even though we're (hopefully) heading in to spring (can't believe it snowed yesterday), I eat soup year round.

Mo Diva said...

since its soo chilly in nyc i would love a bowl of that soup! mmmm. comfort!
Look s great diva!

The Diva on a Diet said...

HH - you do make me laugh! Kisses back to you, dahling!!

Holly - good cold weather comfort food too ... and we seem to be having the cold weather in abundance of late. Bah!

Laura - I thought you'd like it! :)

vilges suola - I agree, there is something very animal, very visceral about food. It appeals on so many, often primal, levels ... as well as the obvious sensual pleasures. I should like to visit Gruyere - though I do fear I'd want to stuff my bags with cheese to bring home. Its a Diva favorite!

Molly - thanks! I love the popcorn deal and have since I was a little kid. I enjoy soups all year round too. :)

Mo Diva - isn't this weather ridiculous? I've got my heat on and I'm wearing a sweater. When will it end?!?

Angie said...

Wow this looks so good!

Fresh Local and Best said...

This is quite an interesting soup. I've not had sweet potato soup, I like the spices in this recipe. Great idea to make a big batch to reheat later.

pixelgal said...

Thanks for the shout out and the good wishes, Diva dear. As you know the feeling is entirely mutual! And the cookbook is great- sounding . I'll definitely try this recipe soon except for the unknown ingredient Ras el Hanout. Never heard of it and don't know if it's here in the burbs or not. Any substitutes just in case? Or can I leave it out? Here's to warmer weather but then again soup doesn't taste so good in the warmth! XXXXXXOOOOO

Anonymous said...

What a terrific soup, I love the gorgeous color!

sophia said...

And sweet potatoes are definitely the YUMMIEST form of carbs out there! Love this soup! Sweet + spicy is a great combination!

Katie@Cozydelicious said...

I don't think I would ever have put sweet potato and tomato together in a soup, but this looks great! Personally, I love the cheese here! Gruyere is so wonderful and nutty. Yum!

stephchows said...

normally I'd say efff diet books LOL but this recipe does look tasty :)

Lentil Breakdown said...

What an unusual combo! Do you mean pale sweet potatoes or the orange ones (yams)?

dining sets said...

This is definitely lovely! I like the combination of flavors in this soup!

gfe--gluten free easily said...

I'm always amazed at how wonderful sweet potato can be when added to soup. Sweet potato chili is divine! And, this soup of yours looks equally wonderful, Diva. I've been wanting a new tomato soup recipe. I'm thinking I'll just replace the cheese with some avocado for creaminess and more flavor. ;-) Thanks, dear!


Sophie said...

MMMMMM,...a stylish, elegant & grand flavoured spiced up soup!

Yummmmmm,...all the way!! Very lovely food!