The holidays are almost here, but I’ve been eating like it’s Thanksgiving for the past few weeks. Food blogger problems! I’m seeking balance in the meals in between recipe testing by 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. I shared this recipe five years ago, and it’s still one of my favorites.
I’m counting down the minutes until I can heat up a big bowlful of this soup for lunch. It’s spicy, filling, satisfying, and overflowing with so-called power foods and whole grain goodness. The Thai red curry paste might seem like an unlikely pairing for sweet potatoes, kale and farro, but somehow it just works.
I love this soup because each main ingredient contributes flavor while retaining its texture. The farro stays nice and chewy, the chickpeas don’t turn to mush like lentils might, the sweet potatoes retain their delicate bite, and the kale never wilts into nothingness like spinach tends to do.
While remaking the soup so I could take photos of it, I adjusted the ingredients and cooking method a bit. I used a fresh red bell pepper instead of chopping up roasted bell pepper, and found that the soup didn’t need nearly as long on the stove as the recipe originally suggested.
If you’re craving more hearty soups to get you through the holidays, check out my soup archives. Don’t miss the eight soup recipes in my cookbook, Love Real Food. Those soups are downright magical, if I can say so myself.
Sweet Potato, Kale and Chickpea SoupCourse: SoupsCuisine: American
This hearty and delicious soup is perfect for warming up. It’s an easy, nutritious, one-pot meal that makes great leftovers, too! Recipe yields 6 bowls of soup.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 pound sweet potatoes (2 small to medium or 1 large), peeled and diced (about 3 cups)
¼ teaspoon salt, more to taste
2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste*
1 cup uncooked farro, rinsed** (or 3 cups cooked whole grains, like wheat berries, spelt berries or kamut)
4 cups (32 ounces) vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained, or 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas
½ bunch of kale (4 ounces), chopped (about 3 cups)
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste (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 onion, bell pepper, sweet potato and salt. Sauté for five minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to soften.
- Add the curry paste and stir until the vegetables are coated and the curry is fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the farro, if that’s your grain of choice. Add the vegetable broth and water, and stir to combine.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes.
- Test the farro for doneness—if it’s tender and cooked through, add the chickpeas and kale. Stir to combine, and cook for 5 more minutes, or until the kale is cooked to your liking. If you chose to use pre-cooked whole grains, add them now. (If the farro is not done cooking yet, continue simmering until it’s tender, then proceed with the kale. This could take another 20 minutes, depending on the farro.)
- Taste, and season with more salt as needed. I usually add about ½ teaspoon—if the soup tastes flat, add more salt. To kick up the flavor a notch and balance the sweetness of the sweet potatoes, stir in the optional cayenne pepper.
- Ladle the soup into bowls and serve. I like this soup even more the next day. Leftovers keep well, covered and refrigerated, for about 4 days. The soup freezes well, too.
- SERVING SUGGESTIONS: This soup is vegan, but mighty tasty with a side of whole wheat toast slathered with goat cheese.
- *THAI RED CURRY PASTE: Look for it in the Asian/international section of the grocery store. I like Thai Kitchen brand, which is vegan (some brands contain shrimp). You can substitute 1 tablespoon curry powder for the curry paste, for a totally different flavor.
- **WHOLE GRAIN NOTES: 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.