Bean and Sweet Potato Soup

It’s been chilly with a cold drizzle lately. The rainy season has mostly ended and we’re starting to get into the cool season. Somehow it feels a lot like American fall even though we don’t have leaves turning red and falling. We do have crisp cool air, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and warm drinks. What a good time for bean soup! It’s a great soup to serve with cornbread.

I invented this soup because we had some sweet potatoes from Vientiane. You can get sweet potatoes here at this time of year, but they’re not as orange and big as the kind from Vientiane. Break off a small end of a potato to make sure it’s yellow or orange inside and not purple or white. In Laos there are many kinds of potato-type vegetables!


  • 4 slices bacon (optional, but really yummy)
  • 2 T oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 C mixed beans (for example, 1/2 C each – black eyed peas, navy bean or great northern beans, and pinto or kidney beans)
  • 1 spicy chili, whole
  • 4 t bullion
  • 5 C water
  • 1 t black pepper
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 4 C sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1/2 inch cubes
  1. Soak the beans overnight.
  2. Cook the bacon in your soup pot and break it up into small pieces.
  3. Add the oil, onions, and garlic. Cook over low heat until the onions are soft.
  4. Add the beans, chili, bullion, water, black pepper, and tomato paste. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 2 hours or until the beans are soft.
  5. When the beans are 30 minutes from being done, add the chopped sweet potatoes.

serves 4

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