The holidays are officially over, thank goodness. My skinny jeans are feeling a little snug, though, and this girl gets cranky when her skinny jeans are snug. Rather than telling myself what I shouldn’t eat (which inevitably results in an overwhelming urge to scarf down an entire batch of chocolate chip cookies), I’ve been filling my belly with my favorite veggie-packed meals. Case in point: this sweet potato, kale, chickpea and farro soup, which is both impossible to describe using fewer words and totally my favorite soup.
Pictured is the third batch of this soup that I’ve made since cold weather hit, and I’m counting down the minutes until I can heat up a big bowlful for lunch. It’s spicy, filling, satisfying, and overflowing with so-called power foods and whole grain goodness.
I dare say that my third attempt is just right; I love it so because each main ingredient contributes flavor while retaining its texture. The chickpeas don’t turn to mush like lentils would, the sweet potatoes retain their delicate bite, and the kale never wilts like more delicate greens.
If your pants are feeling a bit snug like mine, satisfy your appetite with a bowl of this sweet and spicy soup and forget about those strict detox diets. Say yes to health, and no to self-deprivation! Get yourself to a yoga class, savor every bite and you’ll be rocking those skinny jeans before you know it. That’s my strategy, at least.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 2 small to medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (or butternut squash)
- Salt, to taste
- 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste* (available in the Asian section at most grocery stores)
- 1 cup uncooked farro, rinsed (or 2 cups cooked whole grains, like wheat berries, spelt berries or kamut)
- 6 to 7 cups vegetable broth (or a combination of vegetable broth and water)
- 1½ cups cooked chickpeas (or one can of cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained)
- ½ roasted red pepper, finely chopped (I used jarred)
- ½ small bunch of crinkly purple kale or green kale, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, if you like it extra spicy like me)
- In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering. Stir in the onions and sweet potato and a big pinch of salt. Sauté for five minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions start to soften.
- Add the curry paste and stir until the onions and sweet potatoes are coated and the curry is fragrant (about 1 minute).
- Add the farro, if that’s your grain of choice, and six cups of veggie broth and/or water.
- Bring to a boil, then set the timer for 30 minutes, cover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer.
- After thirty minutes, uncover the pot and add the chickpeas and red pepper. Taste and season with more salt as needed (if it tastes flat, add more). If you chose to use cooked whole grains, add them now. Cover and simmer for another twenty minutes.
- Uncover, stir in the kale, add cayenne pepper if desired, and serve.
Serving suggestions: This soup is vegan, but mighty tasty with a side of whole wheat toast slathered with goat cheese.
Whole grain notes: I have tried this soup with lentils and rice, and do not recommend substituting those ingredients for chickpeas or other whole grains. They both lose their texture and cook down to mush. I prefer using farro as the whole grain because it requires less cooking time than wheat berries, spelt berries or kamut, so it can be cooked along with the soup. The soup is great with those other whole grains, but you'll want to start cooking those in a separate pot well before the farro; just add the whole grains along with the chickpeas so no ingredients are overcooked or lose their texture.
*Thai red curry paste: Look for it in the Asian section of the grocery store. I like Thai Kitchen brand.