Southwest Sweet Potato Stew

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So I am now on my third batch of this stew. I have eaten this for lunch nearly every day for the past month- with a few exceptions here and there. Every time I heat it up in the microwave at work, people say, “Wow. That’s smells delicious! What is that?!” Literally, Every. Single. Time. And the funny thing is, this was a recipe that I threw together on Sunday night as I was rushing to make lunch for the week ahead. I hardly had anything in the house except Thanksgiving-esque remainders like onions and sweet potatoes. I emptied my pantry and found quinoa, tomato paste, a can of coconut milk. At the time, I was becoming tired of the holiday leftovers and wanted something completely different. And thus this smoky Southwest stew was born!

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The secret ingredient that makes this soup and a stew is the quinoa. It acts as a thickener while contributing high quality protein. You can adjust the consistency of the stew simply by adding a little more or a little less quinoa. I like it somewhere in between, so that is how I have made it for this recipe. There is a tablespoon of curry in here…but don’t fret if you do not have curry at home. You can substitute with a tablespoon of poultry seasoning. Although curry adds to the depth of flavor- this stew is not a curry. It is super rich tasting that is actually way lighter than it tastes. The coconut milk adds a silkiness, almost like a cream. But instead of building plaque on your arteries like cream would, coconut milk adds healthy fat for radiant health and glowing skin!

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The spice factor is also an adjustable element in this recipe. I use chipotle powder because I really love spice, but this can actually be completely omitted if you are not a fan. One ingredient that is an absolute must-have is smoked paprika. This is not the same as sweet paprika, which tastes kind of like…nothing. You may have search a bit for in the spice section but it honestly makes the entire dish. And I promise once you use it, you will become addicted to it. It is really just smoked red peppers, and not spicy at all. You don’t even taste the peppers, just a deep, smoky flavor. It is amazing. I have since become obsessed and use it in my guacamole, salsa, and as a seasoning on the fish! Trust me, don’t skip this one. There are 4 large sweet potatoes in this recipe. When cooked in this stew, they retain their creaminess and perfectly balance the bold, spiciness of the other ingredients.

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Of course, I have to stress the importance of bringing our own lunches (BYOL) to work or school. As I have stated in previous posts, I do receive my lunch complimentary as a dietitian in the hospital. But I consistently found myself crashing after lunch- even after eating at the salad bar. When I bring my lunch, without fail, I skip the crash. When you BYOL, you ensure that you know exactly what you are eating, and you can feel good after eating it. This recipe is great because it tastes ultra rich and is quite filling but it’s 100% plant-based, unprocessed, and vitamin and mineral-rich. BYOL!

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Southwest Sweet Potato Stew

Yeild: 8 servings


  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 5 Small-Medium Onions
  • 1 – 6oz Can Tomato Paste
  • 1½ Tablespoons Chipotle Powder
  • 2 Tablespoons Smoked Paprika
  • 1 Teaspoon Cayenne (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon Curry Powder (or Poultry Seasoning)
  • 1 Tablespoon Salt (or to taste)
  • 4 Large (or 5 medium) Sweet Potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 14 Cups Water
  • 1½ cups Quinoa
  • 1 Cup Cilantro, chopped, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 – 13.5oz Can Coconut Milk
  1.  Sautee onions in olive oil over medium heat until translucent.
  2. Add tomato paste and spices and sauté for 5 minutes
  3. Add sweet potatoes, quinoa, and water. Turn heat to high bring to a boil.
  4. Once boiling , lower heat to medium-high and gently boil uncovered for 30 minutes or until sweet potatoes are soft, quinoa is cooked, and soup has thickened.
  5. Turn heat off and stir in coconut milk and cilantro. Allow to cool on stovetop before storing. Cilantro will cook slightly and wilt and flavors will meld. Enjoy!
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2 Comments on Southwest Sweet Potato Stew

  1. Courtney Mohamed
    January 11, 2015 at 5:38 pm (3 years ago)

    Keeping your lunch soup tradition alive!! I love it. This soup sounds good.

    • Bryee Shepard, M.S., R.D.
      January 11, 2015 at 6:28 pm (3 years ago)

      You got that right, Courtney! This is really good…and I promise, you could totally make it!! This one is not crazy-complicated!! Kiss to Reese 😉


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