There is a passage from Invisible Man that floats into my head from time to time, and feels me with the warm hum you get from beautifully expressive writing. On a freezing winter day the character buys three hot yams from a street vendor, and the reader melts like the butter spread liberally on them as he describes these hot, sweet delicacies from the South. Eating the yams offers the character the opportunity to embrace his past and heritage, and allowed me, as a reader from the UK, to drift off into nectar dreams.
Yams and sweet potatoes are often confused, but the two differ botanically. Yams are starchier and drier, are native to Africa and Asia, and are closely related to lilies. Apparently there are ‘soft’ and ‘firm’ varieties of sweet pot in the US, and it is the soft ones that are often labelled as yams.
Just as potatoes, sweets are incredibly versatile. Think of Samwise Gamgee from LOTR: ‘boil ‘em, mash ‘em, stick ‘em in a stew’ (they are also super roasted as wedges, Sam). This week I decided to make a soup for my packed lunches. I have spent rather a lot of time gazing at the most GORGEOUS colours my eyes have beheld: rust, bright orange, brassy gold leaves cling onto trees or swirl through the air – I was lucky enough to have one hit my forehead on my run the other day. This heady heft of orange inspired my autumnal soup: spicy sweet potato and carrot soup. If you want some more inspiration for autumn try this blackberry apple oat crumble I cobbled together.
I made it in my slow cooker: throwing everything in, the veg simmered for the day and turned into a delightful mush that I mashed into soupy-soup. It is flavoursome, hot, slightly sweet, and full of chunky texture that makes you think of autumn walks through piles of leaves and soggy soil, hard branches and muddle puddles. It is so easy, v nutritious and cosy as.
Hope you enjoy!!!
For 3 lunchtime servings
1 large sweet potato
1 large carrot
750ml vegetable stock
1 decent spoonful of hot curry powder
Salt and pepper
Chilli flakes for hot hot hotness
Can of chickpeas, drained
- Chop carrot and sweet potato into rough 1cm by 1cm chunks
- Throw them in the slow-cooker
- Add water and all the seasoning
- Set the slow cooker to medium and leave for 7 hours
- When everything is soft like pillows, mash the veg to the consistency you like your soups
- Grill the chickpeas with some herbs until brown and dry
- Sprinkle them on top
- Serve, or omit step 7 and store until you need it!