Serious Eats: Recipes

Eat for Eight Bucks: Sweet Potato Leek Soup

[Photograph: Robin Bellinger]

Shopping List

1 large leek: $2.00
1 large sweet potato: $1.50
1 pound potatoes: $1.00
1/2 pound cabbage: $0.75
2 carrots: $0.50

Pantry items: Chicken or vegetable stock, butter, salt, pepper, yogurt, olive oil.

Total cost (for 2 portions): $5.75

This soup was born of a moment of panic last week when the refrigerator had gotten perilously bare. A single leftover baked sweet potato, old vegetable odds and ends, stock made from Sunday's chicken carcass, and some leeks I had splurged on without having anything special in mind. I love potato leek soup, so why not sweet potato leek?

I roasted potatoes, carrots, and cabbage in a 400°F oven while the soup simmered and had a bright and tasty lunch ready in under an hour. Like butternut squash soup, this one was richly smooth and creamy-tasting despite its lack of cream. I had worried it might be bland, seasoned with salt and pepper only, but it was delicious. If it is bland for your taste, you might add anything you'd use with squash or sweet potatoes: cumin, cinnamon, ginger, or garam masala, for instance.

If you don't have a pre-baked sweet potato, use a raw one and simmer it in the stock until tender. If you don't have a leek, try an onion. And if you don't have chicken or vegetable stock, you can use bouillon powder or miso paste. I often make soups with water only, but for something this simple you need a little more flavor in the liquid base.

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