Purple Yam Soup

Recipe as a result of: My attempt to make something Halloween-ish that is spooky and sweet but does not require baking (and I got it)

purple soup

I was in elementary school when my dad took us with him from Tokyo to San Francisco, while he was invited to attend a 6-month business training program at the headquarters of the American company he was working for. It was the first time for all of us to live outside of Japan, even for a short term. We arrived late summer, spent a hectic few weeks getting settled in, then October came around.

Halloween is fairly established and enjoyed by many in Japan nowadays, but at that time not many Japanese even heard of it unless they had been in the States. So, imagine you are in the 3rd grade, never had Halloween before, and your mom (who probably just learned what it is, too) explains to you what will happen.

This is EXACTLY how it was processed in my 8-year old brain:

Wait – Let me get this straight.

… I get to dress up.

… Then I go around neighborhood, while still being dressed up, knocking on everybody’s doors.

… And they give me candy?

NO. FREAKIN’. WAY.

I’m in!!!!!

We went back to Japan in following winter after dad completed his program, but this miraculous event was thoroughly ingrained in my memory. To this date, Halloween is my favorite holiday – It MAY be somewhat responsible for the fact that I now live in US.

Let’s talk about today’s recipe: I make any kind of creamy vegetable soup pretty much the same way with just different combinations of veggies, herbs and spices – This is not an exception but I kept the ingredients minimal to have the yam’s unbelievable color and intense sweetness come through as much as possible.

As a matter of fact, it’s so simple that possibly the trickiest part is actually to find purple yams (I usually get them at one of Asian markets in my neighborhood, either Korean or Filipino stores).  I’d say they are worth seeking out for, though, if you are looking for something that is easy to make but looks striking and will surprise your guests at your next Halloween party. It almost feels like cheating, but I would consider that sort of trickery appropriate for the season.

RECIPE (2-3 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 2/3-3/4 lb (300-350g) purple yam, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1/2 medium white onion, diced
  • 1.5 cup vegetable broth
  • About 1 cup soy milk (adjust amount based on texture you like)
  • A pinch of salt to taste
  • Heavy cream or half & half to finish (optional – I used it to decorate but the dish will not be vegan if you use these of course)

Method:

  1. Cut the yam first and soak cubes in water. Let them sit for a few minutes, drain and rinse off extra starch (I don’t know if this step is necessary at all for soup, but it seems the color comes out cleaner and brighter if I do this for some reasons).
  2. In a medium sauce pan, put in yam, onion, and broth
  3. Bring it to boil, then simmer with medium/low heat, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Soup will be reduced but that’s OK since you will adjust thickness later.
  4. Purée the mixture with an immersion blender or a regular blender.
  5. Add soy milk, while stirring, until it achieves the texture and the color you like – I like it thick with bright purple, so I usually add little by little not to thin out soup too much.  Add a pinch of salt – Be careful not to add too much here as well, the purpose is to bring out the sweetness even more by offsetting it with a little bit of saltiness.
  6. Reheat gently with low heat if necessary (do NOT boil, soy milk will separate) and ladle into the serving bowls. Decorate with heavy cream or half & half, if using.
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