black bean and sweet potato chili

On Saturday I made soup.

I was going to tell you about it on Sunday, but I got distracted by church. On Monday I got distracted by the quotidian. And then Tuesday I got distracted by all things lack tay shun. So now it’s Wednesday and even though I’m tempted to get distracted by my mile-long list of things I want to unload here, I am going to buckle down and force myself to write about Saturday Soup.

It was good, that soup was. Even my husband, aka Mr. No Compliments, took one bite and let loose with a loud, “This is good.”

“Of course it is,” I said, my indignation at his surprise—as though the chances of me turning out a tasty soup are slim, thanks a lot, you ungrateful wretch—tempered by a mouthful of riotous flavor fireworks.

The soup is simply a meatless black bean chili bulked up with carrots and sweet potatoes and with a handful of weeds thrown in for flair.

See, while I was a-soup making, the neighbor stopped by and we got to talking about the market produce I can’t identify. She attempted to match names with descriptions, but I remained clueless, so she took a hike around the property and returned with a handful of green, the roots still clumped with dirt.

I tore off the leaves of the purported good-in-soup plants, washed them well, and chopped them into the soup. There wasn’t much of a flavor difference—I had already added a whole pile of fresh cilantro—but the green added good vitamins and (more) pretty green fleckies.

If you have edible weeds in your yard, mince a nice handful up real fine and toss them into the pot. If nothing else, it’s fun to put weeds in soup.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

1 onion, minced
2 large carrots, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and chopped
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons canola oil
3-5 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 quart chicken broth
4 cups cooked black beans, drained
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
weeds, optional
salt and pepper

Put the onion, chopped carrots, sweet potato, garlic, and oil in a large soup pot. Cook over medium high head until mostly tender, 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not brown. Add the chili powder and cumin and stir to combine.

Add the broth and beans and cook until heated through and the flavors have had time to get acquainted, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and weeds. Taste to correct seasonings and serve. Feel free to condimentize, but we did not.


  • Mavis

    I have 1 lonely sweet potato that has been sitting on my counter for months. Plus, I have all the ingredients to make this {weeds included}. Totally making this!

    P.S. I think Guatemala is turning you into a total nut.

    • Jennifer Jo

      Me a nut? ME? And this is coming from Mavis? Mavis, the Nut QUEEN?! You are oh-ho-HO SOOOO funny.

      (Psst: that's probably why I like you.)

  • Margo

    love this kind of soup! I make 3 sisters stew, which is corn, beans, and squash (or sweet potatoes). So named from the Native Americans who called them that and grew them together.

    I'm putting weeds in everything right now. Nothing thrills me more than to go out to my city backyard with scissors in hand. I'm stalking chickweed next!

  • katie

    Is epazote prevalent in your area? ive been told it can really take over, but not, evidently, in climates such as mountainous west virginian ones … thus I have no idea what it looks or tastes like.

  • Mama Pea

    Well, I'll be! We went to friends' home for dinner last Saturday night and she served a soup that was nearly the same as this . . . but without the carrots, cilantro and weeds. Her's had 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper and a can of diced tomatoes, 1/4 cup brewed coffee and 2 tablespoons honey. I loved it, but my hubby thought it was too sweet. (From only 2 tablespoons honey?) Anyway, I thought the sweet potato/black bean combo was great.

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