The butternut squash-and-black bean base in these healthy vegetarian tostadas has a mild, sweet-spicy flavor thanks to ancho chile powder. If you can’t find ancho chile powder, other mildly spicy chili powder can be used. Serve with your favorite hot sauce.
It feels a bit incongruous to be posting this hearty, warming recipe for red lentil, sweet potato, and coconut curry just as everyone gets excited about spring temperatures, but it’s so good that I can’t help myself. I shared this curry on Food52 a few weeks ago, as part of my vegan lunch series. It’s a favorite: rich, flavorful, easy to prepare, and incredibly filling. You can serve it on top of a bed of quinoa or rice, or all on its own.
Like many curries, the recipe is adaptable. Yellow split peas can work in place of red lentils. If you’d like to add celery or omit the carrot, or swap butternut squash for sweet potato, that’s fine. It’s the spices and the hearty texture of legumes + root vegetables that make the dish.
Soup has been the last thing on my mind this month, what with the heat and humidity. But we had a little burst of dry, breezy, and almost autumnal weather on Sunday, so I seized an opportunity to turn on the oven and let something simmer on the stovetop. Two loaves of my friend Alexandra’s peasant bread and a pot of this simple, sweet potato & roasted red pepper soup were the happy result.
This isn’t my first time making the soup: it’s one of those recipes I make often but have never thought to blog about, in part because it’s sort of a moving target. I tend to season the soup differently almost every time I cook it: sometimes I use curry paste, extra garlic, and lime for a Thai-inspired version; sometimes it’s curry powder and vegan yogurt; sometimes it’s five-spice powder and ginger; sometimes, as with this batch, it’s smoked paprika and chili.
I guess the soup’s adaptability is really its superpower. It’s a simple base: just onion, garlic, sweet potato, and broth, which all goes into the blender (or gets pureed with an immersion blender). The special ingredient is roasted red bell peppers, which compliment the sweetness of the potato and add a touch of smoky flavor, too. I like roasting the peppers from scratch, because I think the smokiness is more prominent when I do. But I’ve definitely made the soup with jarred, roasted bell peppers in a pinch, and it works very nicely, too.
So, as I’ve been polishing off bowls of the soup all week for lunch—piled with rustic croutons and usually served with a tasty, simple side salad or pita or wrap—I’ve been thinking it’s time to finally share this much loved recipe, along with the flavor variations I like. Hope you’ll try it out and come up with your own different spice/seasoning blends to liven it up with.