sweet potato on cutting board

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January is national soup and national oatmeal month. Two of my favorite comforting foods in the dark of winter. And because a darker version of something is almost always better for you than its lighter cousin, it’s wonderful that we’re getting black beans, orange sweet potatoes, green veggies.

We call sweet potatoes “yams” (i.e. red garnet yams), but actually sweet potatoes and yams are different plants, and what we grow here are really sweet potatoes. Yams, grown primarily in the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, and Latin America are tougher, drier and not as sweet as sweet potatoes.

Should you use organic ingredients? You’ll get more bang for your buck, more nutrition if you do. So start by scrubbing your sweet potatoes. Don’t peel them because there are vites in the skin! Nutritional yeast? Gives a slight cheesy flavor, is rich in the B vitamins (nerve and stress vitamins), and helps prevent the breakdown of collagen.

Serves 4

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 onion, peeled, diced, about 2 C 4 C hardy greens (such as kale or collards), chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced  2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
3 ribs celery, sliced, about 2 C 2 tsp good salt
4 C 1” diced sweet potatoes like red garnet yams 1 tsp grains of paradise or black pepper
1 (15 oz) Eden-brand can of black beans, about pinch of cayenne, optional
2 C cooked black beans 2 sausages (veggie or real) diced, optional
4 C water or vegetable broth 1 Tbsp fresh lime or lemon juice
1 tsp dried thyme 1 Hass avocado, peeled and diced
1/8 tsp allspice

In a soup kettle, gently warm the oil. Add onion, garlic and celery; sauté a few minutes, stirring from time to time. Add sweet potatoes and cooked black beans together with water or broth, thyme, allspice and nutmeg. Bring soup to a boil, lower heat to lowest, cover pot and simmer 10 minutes.

Uncover pot. Add the chopped greens. Add the nutritional yeast and salt and grains of paradise or pepper. Add cayenne for some spice and sausage for extra flavor, if you choose. Give a good stir and simmer another 5 minutes. Add lime or lemon. Taste, adjust seasoning and ladle out into 4 bowls. Garnish with chopped avocado and serve.