A hearty vegan sweet potato stew with a flavorful tomato-based broth, tender greens, bright lime juice, and zippy cilantro.
After a promising start, winter has fizzled into a kind of semi-permanent early spring. It’s chilly – coat weather even – but the cozy quiet that comes with bitter cold, snow, and sleet is nowhere to be found. We’ve traded snow and ice for cloudy days and drizzle.
The stretch of rainy days had me craving bright flavors and lots of vegetables, so I set about creating this colorful, vegetable-focused sweet potato stew with brightness and spicy notes to counter all the gray and gloom.
This vibrant orange stew is layered with cumin and turmeric, a few handfuls of leafy greens, lime juice, and cilantro for a big punch of flavor. It’s just the thing for cold and rainy days, or just those days when you need a good, easy dinner with actual nutrients.
Building a Flavorful Sweet Potato Stew
The flavor base of the stew starts with yellow onion, carrots, garlic, freshly ground cumin, turmeric, Aleppo pepper, red pepper flakes, and kosher salt. If I have time, I’ll cook the onions a good 10 minutes until they’re supple and have taken on the flavor of the olive oil and spice. Once the onions have cooked down, add the sweet potatoes and cook just until they’ve softened a bit. All that’s left is to stir in the vegetable broth, tomatoes, and greens, and simmer. When the soup has finished cooking, add fresh squeezed lime juice and top with chopped cilantro.
Swaps and Subs
This stew was created to highlight the delicate, honeyed flavor of sweet potatoes, but there’s lots of room for subs and swaps. Just be careful not to pack too many vegetables into the stew. About four cups should be the maximum amount of sweet potatoes or a mix of root vegetables. Consider subbing in about one cup of cubed sweet tubers like parsnips or rutabagas.
And there’s lots of room to play with your greens. I used curly kale, though Lacinato kale would be wonderful. Collard greens, chard, dandelion, or mustard greens would all be great. Give collards plenty of time to cook in the stew. Greens like kale, chard, or spicy greens should be added toward the end of cook time.
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled, and minced
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin seed
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, more for a spicier stew
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt, use less if using a different salt
- 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into a 3/4-inch cube
- 4 cups flavorful vegetable broth, homemade or store bought
- 2 cups crushed tomatoes (I used the fire roasted kind)
- 1/2 bunch kale, collards, or chard, woody stems removed and cut into ribbons
- 1/3 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (from 3 - 4 limes)
- 1 cup chopped cilantro leaves
Set a large (5 quart) Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the olive oil and then the onions and carrots. Cook 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic, cumin, turmeric, Aleppo and red pepper, and salt. Cook 3 minutes more. Add the sweet potatoes and cook until they've softened a bit, about 5 minutes. Stir in the broth and tomatoes, bring to a boil, turn to low, cover pot with lid askew, and cook 20 - 25 minutes or until sweet potatoes are fork tender but not falling apart. As the stew cooks, taste and add salt as needed.
Remove from heat and stir in lime juice. Ladle into bowls and top with lots of chopped cilantro.
Leftover soup will keep for about 3 days in the fridge.