Sweet Potato Red Pepper and Coconut Milk Soup (vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, microwave-friendly)

Makes about one quart, 32 to 36 ounces (4 to 4 1/2 cups)

1 extra-large sweet potato (or 2 to 3 smaller sweet potatoes), peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes

about 3/4 cup water

1 large red bell pepper, de-seeded and chopped into large pieces

one 14-ounce can coconut milk (I used Trader Joe’s Light Coconut Milk)

optional seasonings – any included should be seasoned to taste : salt and pepper; red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, chili powder; cinnamon, ground ginger, ground nutmeg; garlic powder, onion powder, curry powder

optional additional vegetables – while steaming the sweet potato, steam carrots, squash, zucchini, or other vegetables on hand

Place sweet potato cubes in a large microwave-safe bowl or baking dish, add 3/4 cup water or until the water comes up about 1-inch high in the base bowl (the cubes do not need to be fully submerged in water; water simply needs to be present to create steam), cover bowl with plastic wrap, and heat on high-power for 13 to 15 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are very fork-tender (microwave temperatures and strengths vary and so will cooking times). Transfer cooked potatoes to a high-speed blender or food processor, add the red pepper, coconut milk, and blend on high power until very smooth and creamy.

Taste the soup and wait five minutes before seasoning it, and if desired season to taste (Note: I tasted the soup and thought it was bland and that it needed salt and pepper but did nothing and got sidetracked.  After going back to it five minutes later, my palate had adjusted and I realized I preferred the pure flavors of potatoes, peppers, and coconut milk and added nothing; however, season to your taste preferences. Adding a pinch of salt and pepper to each individual’s bowl before serving works fine).

Optionally, garnish with finely diced red peppers, a drizzle of coconut milk, coconut oil, coconut butter, or olive oil; fresh herbs, nuts or seeds, dollop of sour cream or yogurt; a dash of salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger. Store soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator and reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop. Soup will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator or can be frozen for up to 3 months.