Earlier this month the hubby and I resolved to do another Whole30. Basically, Whole30 is a 30-day elimination diet where you eat only meats, vegetables and fruit. That means eliminating grains, dairy, alcohol (sob), refined sugar and legumes (including soy) from your diet. It is so, so hard.
The hubby and I completed a Whole30 challenge two years ago, which I chronicled along with the recipes I made here. Whole30 worked annoyingly well for us — we not only lost weight, but we had more energy than we’d had in years. We both discovered sensitivities to certain foods that leave us feeling bleh when we eat too much of it, like dairy.
I kicked off our Whole30 with the most comforting foods I could think of, to help us “ease” back into it. That’s why I made this Thai sweet potato soup.
Whole30 isn’t a barrel of laughs for us, but both the hubby and I felt like we needed to take a step to “reset” our bodies and our metabolism. Ever since moving to London almost a year ago, I’ve been eating like I’m on one yearlong vacation and that I still have the metabolism of a teenager (which I definitely, definitely don’t). I’m eating dessert after lunch on weekdays. I started making sugary, tomato sauce-drenched baked beans on toast for breakfast. Sometimes, for giggles, I’d just stop on the way home from running errands to tuck into a warm brioche bun the size of my face. It was a world gone mad.
On our first day of Whole30, we felt cautiously optimistic. I thought back to the first time we tried this grand experiment, and how both of us were shocked at the weight loss after we completed a month of no fun. Surely, now that we’re two years older and none the wiser, would this work for us so well again.
We’re more than halfway through our 30 days now, and I have to tell you — Whole30 works, even when you think that age and life in a world-class city might be working against you. I do have to admit that it’s really, truly hard to write passionately about food when all I could think about during those first few days about how much I really wanted a dripping baklava oozing with clear honey and browned pistachios to just magically appear and fall into my mouth. Hunger is depressing. Severe deprivation from glorious food is traumatic.
Happily, there have been bright moments, like this Whole30 Thai sweet potato soup. Some time ago I accidentally ended up with an entire case of organic canned sweet potato, and I’ve been looking for ways to slowly whittle down my stash. As it turns out, canned sweet potato has a lovely, silky texture, far silkier than any amount of pureeing that I could do in my food processor.
So, on our first day of Whole30, after a fair amount of regret had already set in, I made this soup. I chopped up a white onion while I gently warmed some olive oil in my trusty Le Creuset Dutch oven. I turned on some Ed Sheeran tunes because I thought maybe his sweet, melodic voice and ginger hair would help me make a soup filled with love (and bright orange sweet potato, of course).
After I cooked the onion down so that they were soft and caramelized a little around the edges, I added in some grated ginger to sizzle with the onion. Then, it was showtime — in went the canned sweet potato, chicken stock and coconut milk. (By the way, I’m now dedicated to using only Chaokoh coconut milk for my curries and soups — its creaminess feels like wearing a satin robe.)
I let my Whole30 Thai sweet potato soup simmer for nearly an hour before I added in some fish sauce and fine strips of fresh kaffir lime leaves. Lime wedges went into a small dish with more kaffir lime for serving as a garnish. The result was a sweet, tangy soup that felt like a warm hug in a bowl.
Actually, that’s what I need a lot of right now. Hugs. Because Whole30, while effective on my body, makes my soul so very, very cold.
- 2 cans of organic sweet potato
- 1.5 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced finely
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 4 cups chicken stock or water
- 1 can (8 ounces) full-fat coconut milk
- optional: 3-4 fresh kaffir lime leaves, chiffonade (i.e., cut into really thin strips)
- 1 lime, cut into wedges, for serving
- salt and pepper
- Add the olive oil to a large Dutch oven set over medium-low heat. Heat for 4-5 minutes until the oil is shimmering but not smoking. Add the onions and saute, stirring frequently to make sure they don't brown.
- When the onions are soft and translucent, add the ginger and cook for an additional minute. Pour the chicken stock (or water) into the pot and add the canned sweet potato. Increase the temperature of the burner to high heat and bring everything to a boil, stirring frequently.
- Reduce the heat again, stirring again to make sure that all of the sweet potato is broken up and well mixed into the stock (or water). Add the coconut milk and fish sauce and simmer for 30-40 minutes on low heat. Season to taste with at least 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.
- Remove the soup from the stove and let it cool slightly. Pour the soup into a blender or food processor and pulse for 10-15 seconds in batches to get a really smooth consistency. Pour into bowls and garnish with kaffir lime leaves and lime wedges.