Vegan Sweet Potato Peanut Soup
Filling and hearty, spicy gluten-free and vegan Sweet Potato Peanut Soup with kale is the perfect way to warm up from the cold. Combining classic West African and Thai flavors, this soup is anything but boring.
Oh, hey, It’s still winter. It’s still cold. We had a nice little break with a 60-degree temperature increase for a day… and now we’re back into below-freezing winter weather.
So basically, what I’m saying is… it’s soup weather. The ultimate soup weather.
I touched a little on my feelings on soup in this recipe post for vegetarian mushroom and wild rice soup. I’m not a huge soup fan, which is ironic given that I joined a soup group this year.
My soup requirements are as such: thick and hearty, full of delicious “things,” cooked for long enough that said delicious things are soft and creamy, and no chicken.
Once again, this spicy vegan sweet potato peanut soup (with kale, but seriously, that is a long recipe name) nails all my basic soup requirements.
This soup is easy to make. It’s deliciously creamy, despite not containing any dairy. It’s full of fun, exciting flavors – so it’s not remotely bland or boring. Leftovers freeze beautifully, and oh, did I mention that it’s toddler-friendly, too?! ↓↓↓
So make yourself a giant batch of vegan sweet potato peanut soup and enjoy lunch all week, or as an easy dinner from the freezer. Winter is sticking around for a while – you may as well make the most of it.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Olive Oil
- Serrano Pepper: Substitute with a jalapeno if you can’t find a serrano pepper. The pepper provides just a little spice, but if you are very spice-averse, remove the seeds and ribs before cutting the pepper.
- Ginger: Fresh ginger is more flavorful, but if you can’t find any, look for dehydrated ginger or ginger paste.
- Sweet Potatoes: If you’re making this in fall, butternut squash is an excellent substitute for the sweet potatoes!
- Tomato Paste
- Coconut Milk: I use a combination of both full-fat and light coconut milk for the best flavor and texture combination, but two cans of either full-fat or light coconut milk can be used.
- Peanut Butter: Either commercial or natural peanut butter can be used.
- Kale: Other tough leafy greens, like swiss chard or collared greens, are also great options.
- Lime Juice: Use freshly-squeezed lime juice if possible – the flavor and acidity is better than bottled lime juice.
African + Thai-Inspired Sweet Potato Soup
The inspiration for this recipe comes from my ultimate science-food writing crush, Kenji López-Alt, over at Serious Eats.
In his version of Peanut, Sweet Potato, and Kale Soup With CoconutPeanut, Sweet Potato, and Kale Soup With Coconut, he takes the West African groundnut soup of his childhood and mixes it with Southeast Asian Thai flavors.
As a sucker for a good culinary mashup, I knew I had to try it.
Of course, I’ve changed things up in my own version, but the flavor inspiration in Kenji’s version is so spot on. Spicy jalapenos, creamy peanut butter, and thick and hearty sweet potatoes… paired with coconut milk?
Yes, and yes again! And the best part is this soup is naturally vegan and gluten free — no substitutions necessary, and so good, you won’t want to sub in any chicken broth. Not only does the coconut milk keep this dairy free and allow us to simmer it for hours without a risk of curdling, but it also carries the flavor much more than using vegetable or chicken broth.
Coconut milk is a carrier of aroma compounds, enhancing the overall aromatic profile of the soup. As the soup simmers, the fats in coconut milk help release and carry the volatile flavor compounds from the other ingredients, such as ginger, garlic, and turmeric, intensifying the fragrance and flavor.
Spicy peppers. Thick and hearty sweet potatoes, simmered until they practically fall apart. Rich and nutty peanut butter (and a sprinkle of peanuts for crunch). Sweet coconut milk. Earthy kale. A squeeze of bright lime juice. Delicious.
Freeze Leftovers for an Easy Dinner
Another reason why this soup is so perfect? You can’t overcook it, and you can make a giant batch and save more for another day.
This doubled perfectly for our soup group and held up well simmering on the stove for an extra 2 hours waiting for people to come pick up their share.
The longer it sat on low heat, the thicker the soup got, as the sweet potatoes continued to break down. (I think I liked it even more after the extra simmering time!).
It reheated well in the microwave at work, and the rest of our leftovers went into the freezer for a later day.
To freeze, make sure the soup is thoroughly cold in the refrigerator. Transfer to a plastic freezer bag or a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months.
To thaw, either transfer the soup to the refrigerator overnight or use the ‘defrost’ setting on the microwave. Reheat on a pan on the stovetop or a bowl in the microwave.
Recommended Tools to Make Sweet Potato Kale Soup
- Dutch Oven: I like to make this soup in a large bowl 7 to 8 quart Dutch oven, which is big enough to handle a double batch.
- Chef’s Knife: A sharp chef’s knife is essential for chopping all the ingredients!
- Microplane Grater: Grating the garlic with a microplane zester is a great shortcut that works for this recipe.
- Garlic Press: The garlic can either be minced by hand or pressed through a garlic press – this one is my favorite.
- Citrus Juicer: I always like to use this handheld citrus squeezer to get every last drop out of my limes!
Tips and Tricks for the Best Vegan Sweet Potato Soup
- Customize the Spice Level: Tailor the soup to your spice preference. If you enjoy a milder heat, remove the ribs and stems of the serrano pepper. For spice enthusiasts, add an extra pepper or add a pinch of cayenne pepper for extra heat.
- Ideal Consistency: If you prefer a thicker soup, add a little more peanut butter or simmer on the stove for an extra hour to allow the sweet potatoes to break down further. For a lighter version, add a little extra water.
- Coconut Milk: To achieve the best flavor and consistency, use at least one can of full-fat coconut milk. I use one can of full fat and one can of light to balance the coconut flavor and the caloric density of the soup, but two cans of full-fat coconut milk would be even creamier!
- Peanut Garnish: Don’t skip the crushed peanuts as a garnish! The added crunch provides the perfect contrast to the creamy soup.
- Make Ahead Meal Prep: Like many stews and soups, this often tastes even better the next day. Consider making a larger batch and letting it sit in the refrigerator overnight to allow the flavors to meld and intensify.
- Freeze Extras for Later: This soup freezes wonderfully. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
More Vegan Dinners:
- Sweet Potato Kale Chickpea Bowl
- Coconut Braised Chickpeas and Spinach
- Eggplant Curry with Coconut Milk
- Thai Peanut Noodle Stir Fry
- All Dinner Recipes »
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 serrano or jalapeno pepper, minced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 inch of fresh ginger, peeled and diced
- 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 (14-ounce) can full fat coconut milk
- 1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 1/2 cup chopped peanuts
- 2 cups kale, stems removed, chopped
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
- Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, serrano or jalapeno pepper, garlic, and ginger. Saute until soft and fragrant.
- Add in the cubed sweet potatoes, followed by the tomato paste, coconut milks, water, salt, and turmeric. Simmer for at least 30 minutes, until sweet potatoes are fork-tender.
- Add peanut butter and peanuts and stir until peanut butter is well combined into the soup. Add the kale and simmer an additional 15 minutes to an hour, until the soup reaches the desired thickness and sweet potatoes are broken down to taste preference. Stir in the lime juice before serving. Top with additional peanuts.
- If you prefer a thicker soup, add a little more peanut butter or simmer on the stove for an extra hour to allow the sweet potatoes to break down further. For a lighter version, add a little extra water.
- To achieve the best flavor and consistency, use at least one can of full-fat coconut milk. Using all full-fat coconut milk results in an even creamier texture.
- This soup tastes even better the next day after flavors have a chance to meld and intensify.
- Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 6
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 484Total Fat: 39gCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 12g