Before we moved down to the Caribbean, I thought of January as the first month of winter, because for me, the cold weather during the holidays was a part of the fun. But then after the holidays, when all the celebrations were over, the freezing temperatures would really hit me making me wish that we could immediately have spring after the holidays.
To make matters worse, January was the month that most people would get sick and spread their germs around. In those days, my natural medicine to protect myself from all the sickness surrounding me was a cup of warm spicy soup. This sweet potato soup, in particular, was an absolute favorite that I would make over and over again. It was so easy to make by simply boiling sweet potatoes in vegetable stock and pureeing them in a blender.
Though for this version, I turned the volume up with adding a lot of spices and topping it off with chickpea croutons. This also ended up being a perfect opportunity to use the coriander seeds that I bought from San Miguel back in September.
While there, we went to a restaurant where I had the best enchiladas that I have ever had. Up until that day, I have had many enchiladas in my lifetime, but this one was different. It was the kind of different that I couldn’t figure out why by just tasting the food. When I asked the waiter what was so different about these enchiladas, he was not surprised at all. He said that people ask him the same question all the time.
Later we got a chance to meet the chef, who told me that the secret to his delicious food was freshly ground spices. He said that he would prefer spices in their whole form as much as possible, and grind them on a daily basis as a part his mise-en-place. He also mentioned that when it comes to using fresh herbs, his approach was similar. He grew different kinds of herbs in his backyard and would only cut them right before he was ready to add them to the dish.
After we came back home from the trip, I immediately bought myself a spice grinder. Since then, I have been grinding my spices right before I start cooking. And I cannot recommend it enough. It is such an affordable investment that makes a huge difference.
For this soup, I ground some coriander seeds, peppercorns and salt. To top it off and make it even spicier, I decided on roasting some chickpeas that I seasoned with cumin, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon. They made a great alternative to croutons made with bread, and helped me with keeping the soup healthy. It ended up being a deliciously spicy soup that will warm your heart with every sip.
Coriander and Sweet Potato Soup with Spicy Chickpea Croutons
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- For the croutons:
- 2 cans (each 15.5 ounces) of cooked garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas), rinsed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper – (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Dash of your favorite hot sauce – (I used Sriracha)
- For the soup:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 medium-sized Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes (appr. 2 cups)
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro or parsley for garnish, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Lay two layers of paper towels on a kitchen counter. Spread the rinsed garbanzo beans (chickpeas) to dry. With the help of another piece of paper towel, dry the beans as much as possible. Once dried, transfer them to a mixing bowl.
- Mix the oil, spices, and hot sauce (if using) in a small bowl. Drizzle it over the chickpeas, making sure that they are coated with the oil and spice mixture.
- Spread the chickpeas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 40-50 minutes, until crisp and golden, tossing a couple of times during the baking to ensure even cooking.
- Take them out of the oven and set aside to cool.
- To make the soup: Heat the oil in a Dutch oven (or any other heavy bottom pan). Add the onion and shallot. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat, until translucent, 7-8 minutes.
- Add the garlic, ground coriander, salt and pepper and mix until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
- Stir in the sweet potatoes and mix until coated with the spices and onions, 2-3 minutes.
- Pour in the vegetable stock and bring it to a boil. Once boiled, turn down the heat to low and let it simmer for 20 minutes or until sweet potatoes are soft.
- Puree the soup in a blender or a food processor in batches. Return it back to the pot and heat until warm.
- If you feel that it is too thick, you can add in a little bit of water and bring it to a boil.
- When ready to serve, garnish the soup with a handful of chickpea croutons, fresh herbs, pinch of coarse sea salt, and a drizzle of olive oil.
I got the idea of using oven-roasted chickpeas as croutons came from here.
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