fight heat with heat

it's a bizarre phenomenon, but when it's unbearably hot and you don't have air conditioning, eat or drink something that will make you sweat. that lovely built-in temperature control system we all have in our bodies isn't there for nothing! sweating cools us down - it may not be particularly glamorous, but it gets the job done. which is why i went for it and made a warm (and spicy) soup for dinner last night, even though our apartment felt like an oven with temperatures in the 80s and no breeze for the past couple of days. our one little fan blasts air in our faces as we sleep, but when said air is muggy and hot, the nights have been restless. i'd just like to stop here and say: i'm not complaining! i love this weather - it reminds me of southern california, and i have been waiting for sunshine and heat like this all year. but in london, without a/c, without a seaside breeze or a pool to jump into when it gets too hot... it can feel a little bit too much.

my mom arrives this weekend and we're having a bbq on sunday, so hopefully the sun sticks around until then! in the meantime, here is my soup recipe from last night. it is fabulous - i adapted it from a tiny one-paragraph recipe in self magazine (i think??) because i thought the ingredients sounded interesting. before you judge what this might taste like - sweet potato and peanut butter - just try it for yourself. the longer it cooks, the more curry-like it becomes, so you can always turn it into that and scoop up with flatbread or pita instead of slurping from a spoon. either way, we slept like babies last night. i'd like to think it was the soup.

african sweet potato soup

makes 3 servings

the particulars:

  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 sweet potatoes (2 peeled, 1 with skin on), cut into cubes
  • 1 quart vegetable stock (2 pints)
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp madras curry powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 cup chunky peanut butter
  1. in a large saucepan, heat up the oil and add the onion and garlic. saute for a few minutes until softened, then add the sweet potato. cook and stir for a minute or two, then add the remaining ingredients.
  2. turn the heat up to bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer and leave to cook (no lid) for about 10 minutes. feel free to serve now, or leave to cook for longer (20 to 30 minutes at least) for more of a stew or curry-like consistency. just make sure to cook until the sweet potatoes are soft enough.
  3. serve hot with wholewheat bread rolls, or flatbread/pita.