Food

Thai-Spiced Sweet Potato Stew

Full of bright colors and complex flavors, this Thai-inspired sweet-potato stew provides the perfect culinary escape from winter woes.

When gloomy skies and midday drizzles damper your day, splash a subtle hint of color and spice into your life with this flavorful Thai stew. Nothing banishes winter-weather blues like a bowl of hearty soup, and this recipe gets an extra warming kick from curry and ginger. With Thai ingredients available at most natural-foods stores and well-stocked supermarkets, it's easy to enjoy the delightful flavors of this cuisine at home.

Use your discretion with the red or green curry paste. A little will give a hint of heat, but if you want a spicier stew, step it up from there. If you're feeling particularly industrious, you can whip up your own curry paste for a healthier and more flavorful alternative to the store-bought variety. If getting dinner on the table quickly is a more pressing concern, pre-made vegan varieties, both green and red, are available—just watch out for sneaky ingredients such as shrimp paste or anchovies.

Serves 6

What You Need:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, quartered and thinly slices
  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes (about 1-1⁄2 pounds), peeled and diced 
  • 3 cups water 
  • 1 medium green or red bell pepper, cut into narrow strips 
  • 1-1⁄2 cups frozen green beans 
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon red or green curry paste, more or less to taste 
  • 1 tablespoon sugar 
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger 
  • 2 stalks lemongrass (optional) 
  • One 13.5-ounce can light coconut milk 
  • 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter 
  • Salt to taste 
  • One 8-ounce package Thai peanut-flavored baked tofu, diced (optional) 
  • Cilantro leaves for garnish

What You Do:

  1. In a soup pot over medium-low heat, heat the oil. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until both are golden.
  2. Add the sweet potatoes and water. Bring to a rapid simmer, then lower the heat. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are about half done.
  3. Add the bell pepper, green beans, curry paste, sugar, and ginger. If using lemongrass, cut each stalk into 3 or 4 pieces, and bruise by making long cuts throughout with a sharp knife. Stir into the soup pot. Simmer the stew for 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the coconut milk, peanut butter, salt, and tofu. Return to a simmer, then cook over very low heat for another 10 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender and the flavors are well integrated.
  5. Remove lemongrass pieces. Taste to adjust seasonings, particularly the curry paste if you'd like a spicier stew, as well as the salt, sugar, and ginger. Serve at once, topping each serving with a few cilantro leaves.
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