Sweet Potato and Black Bean Fiesta Soup
Yields: about 8-10 cups Prep Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 4 hours (slow cooker)
Loaded with vitamins, fiber and antioxidants, this soup is best made in the slow cooker, letting the flavors blend together. Sweet potato adds a hint of sweetness to balance out the depth of the cumin, paprika and hint of chili powder.
1 large or 2 small chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
3 cups quality chicken broth
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups diced sweet potatoes
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups strained tomatoes (or chopped)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1.5 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground smoked paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground chili powder (optional)
1. Turn on the slow cooker (I use a Hamilton Beach basic model) on HIGH.
2. Place chicken breasts, broth, water, diced sweet potato, black beans, strained tomatoes, brown sugar, olive oil and spices in the slow cooker. Stir.
3. Cook on HIGH for about 3-4 hours until chicken is cooked through. Every slow cooker I have used has different settings, and so for me, it was about 3 1/2 hours.
4. When the chicken is cooked through, remove from slow cooker and place on a cutting board. Using two forks (or whatever tool you prefer), shred chicken. Place back in slow cooker for another 30 minutes. Options for serving are shredded cheese, tortilla chips, cilantro and sour cream. Great for freezing!
So many people I know rely on their slow cookers. I should say so many brilliant people I know rely on their slow cookers. I don’t know where I have been to not see the value in these little machines. Whatever it is, I have been making this soup multiple times in a meal rotation lately. Somehow, it seems to fit everyone’s requirements.
My youngest loves how tender the chicken becomes. My oldest, and least picky, gobbles it and requests seconds. And my pickiest, my middle, actually eats it by dipping her whole wheat tortilla in it and scooping everything into her mouth. And as a bonus, it is one of the easiest meals to make AND even tastes better as a leftover meal.
I vary the type of tomatoes I use depending on what I have in the house. Lately though, I have been using a variety of strained tomatoes that come in a carton. I am aware of the BPA, a hormone-disrupting chemical, levels in cans. Although, now there are more and more companies that are using a BPA-free liner. (Here is some info on BPA from Environmental Working Group.) Glass jars are another option.
Another nice thing about this soup is the nutritional value is really high. Sweet potatoes are loaded with beta carotene which converts to vitamin A in the body, supporting the immune system and eye health. Black beans are loaded with fiber, folate, magnesium and iron.
When I didn’t have or use my slow cooker, I did make this on the stove. Adding the chicken first with the oil to sear it, then the rest of the ingredients, cooking the chicken throughout. Bring the mixture to a low boil, then let the soup cook on low. When the chicken is cooked, simply shred and add back in, again on low for another 30 minutes. Sometimes before I add the chicken back in, I do take my handheld immersion blender and blend a bit to break up the black beans and sweet potatoes. One of the many benefits of the slow cooker is the flavors really have a chance to blend and the chicken stays tender.