The best thing about slurping up a big bowl full of my Fast and Fit Steak Pho with Zucchini Noodlesis the overload of delicious meat and veggie goodness sans the traditional noodles (we be low carb-ing it over here). The second-best thing is cracking Pho jokes, puns and innuendos with the family while eating this fast and fit meal. Kids: “Mom, dinner tonight is pho-nomenal, it’s un-pho-gettable! You should take a picture of it, it would be good pho-tography.”Me:“Only the best pho you guys, that’s pho-sure.”
But, no joke, this quick soup is not only “good pho you” it’s weeknight dinner winner when you just don’t have hour after hour to simmer down oxtails, beef knuckles and leg bones and exotic charred spices into the traditional Vietnamese broth. So, I might have broken a few ancient tenets of pho-making here and there – but, then again, I used zoodles (gasp) instead of the thin white rice noodle that my neighbor’s grandmother would more approve of. I’m a rebel who, with my zucchini, is squashing all rules!
When I’m looking to make a meat-free soup into an entire meal, I have couple non-negotiable. The soup needs to be hearty and thick (as opposed to thin and brothy), it needs to have tons of flavor, and also should have a decent showing of protein. My recipe for Vegan Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup with Cilantro Chimichurri meets all of these requirements and more — the “more” bonus is that it’s super easy to make and is loaded with healthy carbs to fuel my long runs and intense workouts. Slightly spicy while simultaneously smoky and just a tad sweet, a big hearty bowl of this meat-free, dairy-free, vegan soup will get you warmed up and keep you filled up until the next meal! My serving size is very generous and, sans the chimichurri, has 400 calories, 20 grams of protein, 80g healthy complex carb, 4g fat – plus is very high in potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C.
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Nutrient-rich sweet potatoes blended into vegetable stock make up the bulk of this super simple soup recipe. Pureed white navy beans have been added for additional protein and fiber and help boost this soup into a full-fledged meal appropriate for vegans, vegetarians or anyone looking for a nutritious meatless option. As I mentioned, this is a great go-to soup when I’m carb-loading for winter marathons, Spartan races and other endurance events.
When making this simple soup, a step you don’t want to skip is to “bloom” the chipotle chile powder in the stock pot before adding any of the other soup ingredients. Blooming most spices helps to intensify their depth and complexity — the smoky flavor of ground chipotle pepper really opens up with this front-end method.
I originally developed this recipe for Litehouse Food’s Living Litehouse Blog using their Instantly Fresh Guacamole Blend as a quick fix in both the soup and the quick-fix Cilantro Chimichurri. I highly recommend this freeze-dried herb product, it’s one of my all-time favorites with multiple uses beyond just guacamole making – try it in soups, stews, casseroles, stir-frys, and skillet dinners. However, if you can’t find the product in your market, I’ve asterisked the recipe with substitutions.
The Cilantro Chimichurri blended up to dress the soup is a bright and vibrant contrast to the more scarf-and-sweater vibe of the hearty soup. Plus, it adds a drizzle of heart-healthy olive oil to a soup recipe that is nearly fat-free. You can also use this Cilantro Chimichurri on drizzled on steak and fish, as a salad dressing, or mixed into Greek yogurt as a dip.
Slice potatoes in half lengthwise. Place potatoes, cut sides down, in an 11 x 7-inch microwave-safe baking dish. Add 1/3 cup water; cover with plastic wrap. Microwave at HIGH 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Cool slightly, discard potato skins.
Heat stock pot over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add chipotle chili powder and sauté 1 minute or until fragrant.
Place undrained beans in blender with approximately ½ cup of chicken broth, pulse until smooth. Add to stock pot.
Scoop sweet potatoes out of skin and add to blender with remaining chicken broth and ¼ cup Guacamole Blend herbs. Process until smooth, working in batches if necessary. Add mixture to stock pot. Bring to simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently. If soup seems too thick add additional water or chicken broth to suit preferences.
To prepare Chimichurri, add olive oil, fresh cilantro, Guacamole Blend herbs, lime juice, vinegar and salt to blender. Pulse until mixture coarsely combined.
To serve, scoop soup into bowls and garnish with a dollop of Chimichurri.
If you can't find Instantly Fresh Guacamole Blend, use this as substitute:
For Soup, instead of 1/4 cup Guacamole Blend, use 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons minced garlic
For Chimichurri, instead of 1/4 cup Instantly Fresh Guacamole Blend, use 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons minced garlic