The fusion of sweet potatoes, chickpeas and cannellini beans makes for an unexpected winter treat. Sweet and nutty flavors mingle in this homemade soup with delightful textures and warm, inviting colors. Easy to make, this delicious soup is loaded with cancer-protective nutrients.
Columbus and other early explorers discovered sweet potatoes, first cultivated by the predecessors of the Incas, in Central and South America. From there, sweet potatoes were carried back to Europe where they gained popularity. Although sweet potatoes contain plenty of other nutrients, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are one of nature's unsurpassed sources of beta-carotene. Sweet potatoes mixed with lycopene-rich tomato paste give this broth-based soup its beautiful peach color.
Cream-colored chickpeas and cannellini beans accent the warm color of the soup broth and their nutty bean flavors complement the sweet flavors of sweet potatoes, onion and celery. Chickpeas and cannellini beans both offer satiating protein and complex carbohydrates, not to mention cancer-protective fiber.
The word chickpea is derived from the Latin word cicer and has no connection with chickens. Around the world, chickpeas also may be called garbanzo beans or ceci beans. Based on their pleasant aroma when roasted, they have been used as a substitute for coffee beans in some countries.
Cannellini beans and chickpeas both contain soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps stabilize blood sugar, while insoluble fiber helps with intestinal health and regularity. Learn more about the health-promoting benefits of beans and peas at AICR’s Foods That Fight Cancer™.
Sweet Potato Bean Soup is hearty enough to stand alone, but for a full meal, serve it with whole-grain croutons or multi-grain or dark pumpernickel bread and field greens topped with apple slices, purple onions, chopped nuts such as walnuts or pecans and a simple vinaigrette.
Sweet Potato Bean Soup
2 cartons (32 oz.) low-sodium chicken broth
1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cans (15.5 oz.) cannellini (white kidney beans), drained and rinsed
1 can (15.5 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup fresh basil or parsley, coarsely chopped
In large pot over high heat, pour in broth and add sweet potatoes, onion, celery, tomato paste, paprika and cumin and bring to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20-25 minutes.
Stir in beans and chickpeas. Cover and simmer until beans are heated through, about 3-4 minutes.
Gently stir soup until well mixed and ladle into soup bowls. Garnish with basil or parsley and serve.
For creamy soup, purée a portion of the soup, return to the pot and combine well before serving.
Makes 8 servings.
Per serving: 250 calories, 3.5 g total fat ( 42 g carbohydrate, 15 g protein, 10 g dietary fiber, 480 mg sodium.
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Photographs by Heather Victoria Photography