Though I definitely indulged my fair share and more over the holidays (who among us didn’t?), I was lucky enough to come through it no worse for the wear and perhaps even a pound or two lighter. I haven’t a clue what my secret was as snowstorms more or less prevented me from doing a lick of exercise during the 10 days we were in New York and I made no real attempt to limit my sweet tooth. I can only guess that perhaps having my hands constantly occupied with a small infant gave me less opportunity to snack.
Even so, like many of you, I’ve found myself in the mood to eat a little healthier in the new year. My palate is in need of some relief from the sweetness, creaminess, and richness that characterizes holiday foods and there’s nothing like a broth-based, veggie-packed soup to fit the bill. This soup was inspired by our recent sweet potato bounty and one of my Christmas presents, Robin Robertson’s Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker. My mom bought us a slow cooker last year and I asked her for the cookbook as a way to force me to make better use of it now that life is a little busier. So far, I’m kind of lovin’ it and have vowed to cook something from it once a week. Yes, that means I have to take the enormous appliance from the top shelf of my closet, but the convenience of throwing some things in a pot early in the day and having dinner ready (presto!) right on time at night more than makes up for it.
This soup was a big hit with Dylan. I was a little unsure at first- with the sweet potatoes and brown sugar, it’s definitely a bit sweet, but the more the soup sat, the more the flavors melded and it ended up just tasting fresh and healthy, packed with nutrients and warm goodness that hits the spot on a winter’s day. I had never tried collard greens before but it turns out they’re pretty tasty and I’ll be looking forward to trying them again in a recipe that really showcases their flavor. More tasty, healthy crock pot recipes to come in the weeks ahead…
Spicy white bean and sweet potato soup with collard greens (serves 4-6)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes
1 fresh hot chile, seeded and minced
1 tsp peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes with their juices
3 cups slow cooked or 2 14.5 oz cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp light brown sugar or natural sweetener
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cumin
2 bay leaves
3 cups vegetable stock (we used Better than Boullion)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped collard greens cooked in simmering water until tender and drained
2. Transfer the mixture to a crock pot (slow cooker). Add the sweet potatoes, chile, ginger, tomatoes, beans, brown sugar, allspice, cumin, bay leaves, and stock, then season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low 4-6 hours.