fight heat with heat

it’s a bizarre phenomenon, but when it’s unbearably hot and you don’t have air conditioning, eat or drink something that will make you sweat. that lovely built-in temperature control system we all have in our bodies isn’t there for nothing! sweating cools us down – it may not be particularly glamorous, but it gets the job done.

which is why i went for it and made a warm (and spicy) soup for dinner last night, even though our apartment felt like an oven with temperatures in the 80s and no breeze for the past couple of days. our one little fan blasts air in our faces as we sleep, but when said air is muggy and hot, the nights have been restless. i’d just like to stop here and say: i’m not complaining! i love this weather – it reminds me of southern california, and i have been waiting for sunshine and heat like this all year. but in london, without a/c, without a seaside breeze or a pool to jump into when it gets too hot… it can feel a little bit too much.

my mom arrives this weekend and we’re having a bbq on sunday, so hopefully the sun sticks around until then! in the meantime, here is my soup recipe from last night. it is fabulous – i adapted it from a tiny one-paragraph recipe in self magazine (i think??) because i thought the ingredients sounded interesting. before you judge what this might taste like – sweet potato and peanut butter – just try it for yourself. the longer it cooks, the more curry-like it becomes, so you can always turn it into that and scoop up with flatbread or pita instead of slurping from a spoon. either way, we slept like babies last night. i’d like to think it was the soup.

african sweet potato soup

makes 3 servings

the particulars:

  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 sweet potatoes (2 peeled, 1 with skin on), cut into cubes
  • 1 quart vegetable stock (2 pints)
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp madras curry powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 cup chunky peanut butter
  1. in a large saucepan, heat up the oil and add the onion and garlic. saute for a few minutes until softened, then add the sweet potato. cook and stir for a minute or two, then add the remaining ingredients.
  2. turn the heat up to bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer and leave to cook (no lid) for about 10 minutes. feel free to serve now, or leave to cook for longer (20 to 30 minutes at least) for more of a stew or curry-like consistency. just make sure to cook until the sweet potatoes are soft enough.
  3. serve hot with wholewheat bread rolls, or flatbread/pita.

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6 Comments on “fight heat with heat”

  1. Larissa says:

    I am making this tonight!

  2. Larissa says:

    Dear Molly,

    My dinner tonight was fabulous.


    I actually used less stock (half) and let it simmer for a good long while, so it turned into a proper curry. Also, I suspect I used more peanut butter than was necessary (I love pb) and it was the creamy kind, so it took on the texture and look of something like ghee!

    Spicy, oily good.

  3. k.s. petty says:

    i made this stew for six people, so i doubled numerous aspects of the recipe. below i’ve listed some of the circumstantial adjustments i needed to make:

    – forgot the cayenne
    – boofed the madras curry, so i used a spicy curry blend i had on the shelf.
    – didn’t double the tomatoes. i used a large can, and added 1/2 cup of water to the broth.
    – i cooked it for close to an hour–it was ready to go after 45 minutes, but people were milling around and asking questions about africa, so we held off.

    mine was definitely more orange than your photo, and like larissa i found the peanut butter to be on a takeover mission. but the reviews were positive. people liked the cinnamon, which i must say was a cool addition to a warm soup.

    i’ve explored the blog since landing on this soup, and i must say i’m increasingly excited about using it as resource for my ongoing explorations in the kitchen.

  4. […] another staple spice in curry, cumin adds a richness to dishes. the seeds provide a great source of iron and aid digestion. you can cook with them whole, grind them up yourself using a mortar & pestle, or use the ready-made ground variety. however you choose to use it, you’ll probably finding the need to re-stock your supply often, as it is so versatile. many middle eastern and african dishes rely on cumin for flavor. i particularly enjoy adding it to fresh hummus or sweet potato & peanut butter soup. […]

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