Soup for the Soul

This recipe is actually from an e-mail I sent to my mother in the fall of 2007, but it is one of my favorite soup recipes that I come back to again and again. The subject line for the e-mail I sent my mom so many years ago was the title of this post, and though I intended to call this something different, I found the subject line far more fitting.

I have just returned from a tireless week of work in Las Vegas, far less exciting than it sounds, and far more exhausting than could be imagined. I came home to face the task of packing up my life for the RAvolution. My body is weary from too much work, and my soul is frightened by the impending task and emotions that lie ahead in the next week and a half. This soup solved both of these dilemmas – it nourished my body with its hearty flavors of ginger, sweet potato, and cabbage; it nurtured my soul with its warmth and its essence of a wonderful past trip to Bali.

I found this recipe in the Moosewood Simple Suppers cookbook shortly after returning from a trip to Bali in early 2007; the recipe is inspired by the Indonesian Gado Gado Sauce that we fell in love with while traveling.

Bali is a place that lies beyond description but this bowl of soup brings me back to the small warungs where we ate daily. The flavors are complex and yet somehow perfectly complementary, they mirror the many experiences in Bali that combine and balance what in other places contradict. If I have ever visited a place that felt like I slipped from reality into a movie set, Bali would be that place. From the small altars that clutter the sidewalks and everywhere your eye catches, to the smell of Durian mixing with incense and flowers, nothing was familiar to any place I had ever been before. From the funeral taking place beside the road that we were somehow invited to, to the Kecak and Barang dances performed, everything felt like a staged movie put on for our benefit; but it was real, and I am transported back to this unbelievable place with each bite of the complex and comforting soup.

You don’t have to travel to Bali to feed your soul (although it really can’t hurt if you have the chance), but I do encourage you to try this soup and from the richness of the peanut butter and sweet potato, to the hint of spice from ginger, it is difficult to not feel just the slightest bit warmer.

As you feed your taste buds, I have added some delights for your eyes to feast on as well. All of the pictures from Bali are courtesy of Gina and Jessica, my dear friends and travel companions on this adventure.

Indonesian Sweet Potato & Cabbage Soup

1Tbs Grated & Peeled Ginger Root

2 Garlic Cloves, minced or pressed

1/2 Tsp Cayenne (or less)

1 Tbs Oil (any kind)

1.5 Onions chopped

1/2 tsp salt

2.5 Cups Cabbage (in 1/2 inch chunks, I used green)

2.5 Cups Diced Sweet Potatoes (about 1 pound)

4 Cups Vegetable Broth

1/2 Cup Smooth Peanut Butter

1 Cup Chopped Tomato

1 Tbs soy sauce

mung bean sprout (optional)

chopped cilantro, scallions, mint, and or Thai basil (optional)

In soup pot on medium heat, cook the ginger garlic and cayenne in the oil for a min. before adding the onions and salt. Cook, stirring often, until onions are soft, about 5 min.

Stir in the cabbage & sweet potatoes. Add about 3.5 cups of the broth. Cover and increase the heat to bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 min.

While soup is cooking, in a bowl whisk together the peanut butter and remaining 1/2 cup of broth until smooth then mix in soy sauce. Add the peanut butter mixture to the soup with the tomatoes. Simmer until all the vegetables are tender about another 5 -10 min.

Serve each bowl topped with bean sprouts and cilantro, scallions, mint, and/or basil.

That’s it and it’s like heaven and Bali in bowl.



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02 2011

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