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Spicy sweet potato, tomato and turmeric soup {+ some photo tips}

September 18, 2017

Sweet Potato and turmeric soup

There’s a dash through the gate into the porch through torrential rain by the person from Riverford at 7am. The empty carton is replaced with a new one abundant with brown paper parcels and intriguing sprigs of green. A neighbour drops in a little later with a clutch of freshly laid eggs. The benefits of a few weeks in Devon at my Mother in law’s house is the chance to order local, organic produce from a company who were one of the first pioneers, and they are based in the county.

In line with what’s in season, each week there are intriguing new things to browse on the website. If I lived here I’d order a weekly veg box but as there can only be one person in charge of shopping around here (and it’s not me!) I restrain myself to a few enticing items.

This week’s delivery contained a splendid, crisp Savoy cabbage, some sweetcorn enrobed in their husks, fresh edamame beans still clinging to their stems, purple sweet potatoes, a bag of Padron peppers, a small bunch of sorrel and some knobbly tubers of fresh turmeric. It feels like Christmas.

It’s the first time I’ve cooked with fresh turmeric and it made me wonder why I haven’t bought it in Dubai – it must be available somewhere. However, like ginger, I presume it’s hard to buy organic which puts me off.  Then I looked up how to grow it and discovered that it’s a tropical tuber so I presume something that could be cultivated by the local, organic farmers. Something to mention when the new season starts in November (or maybe have a go myself).

How to prepare fresh turmeric

As a perennial herb related to ginger, it’s simple to treat it in the same way – with one word of caution. The juice from this root stains everything it touches; your fingers, the chopping board, the knife, any light plastic, your clothes.

You can peel the root with a knife, or the back of a spoon but this is not essential – just wash it before use to remove any dirt. Use a fine grater or micro plane, a robust garlic crusher or a pestle and mortar to prepare it. For the recipe below, I knew I was blending the soup after cooking so just chopped it finely as I would garlic.

This soup was the result of the Riverford ingredients and needing to use up a few things in the fridge including some sweet potato. The turmeric added a subtle richness and warmth, much less earthy than the dried variety. It made an excellent lunch with some bread to mop it up with. Vegan teen reheated some to thicken it slightly and used it over pasta for supper. You can garnish with a swirl of yoghurt and some fresh herbs if you have them to hand.

Spicy sweet potato and turmeric soup

Spicy sweet potato, tomato and turmeric soup

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A comforting soup with the warmth of fresh turmeric.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 1/2 green birds eye chilli, chopped
  • 5cm long piece of fresh turmeric, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 500g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 400ml vegetable stock
  • sea salt and black pepper


  • Heat the olive oil, in a large saucepan, over a medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the celery, stir and cook for a further 3-4 minutes until slightly softened.
  • Add the chilli and turmeric and give a quick stir.
  • Pour in the tinned tomatoes, then add the sweet potatoes.
  • Add the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer.
  • Cook, partially covered, until the sweet potatoes are soft when pierced with a knife; this takes about 30 minutes.
  • Remove the soup from the heat and use a stick blender to whizz to a smooth consistency (or use a power blender and then return to the pan to reheat).
  • Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.

What happened to the rest of the Riverford produce? We boiled the corn briefly and gnawed straight from the cob, butter melting over the kernels. The Padron peppers were blistered in a hot pan and devoured with salt as an aperitif. I found out that their Russian roulette reputation is not a myth as one set my mouth on fire; thankfully the rest were their usual mild, moreish sweetness.  I hadn’t tasted fresh edamame before and boiled the pods whole in salted water, refreshed them in cold and podded the lot for picking at as snacks. The purple sweet potatoes were slightly more earthy and less overtly sweet in taste; delicious roasted as olive oil slicked, paprika dusted wedges. Vegan teen informed me that sorrel is poisonous eaten in large quantities, so I’m glad we just had a small bunch to wilt and eat like spinach, tasty though it was!

Putting a call out on Instagram, I had lots of suggestions for uses of fresh turmeric, the top one being in golden milk – my favourite recipe is by Kellie of Food to Glow.

Sweet Potato and turmeric soup

Photography challenges, light, backgrounds and Lightroom presets

My unplanned, longer stay in the UK means I’m camping out at my Mother-in-law’s house. I’ve been watching the light at different times of the day to find the best spot for photography. My challenge is that in some places there is too much light (big windows) and some places not enough (parts of the building are a very old cottage). The garage has a frosted window high up and is where I shot these pics, but I don’t think the temperature of the light is quite right and it’s still too strong (hard shadows).

The backgrounds were ordered from Capture by Lucy  (I seem to be building up a collection). These are printed vinyl that just roll up for storage (or bringing back in my suitcase). Don’t assume they are  restricted to flat lay use only, I found some great ideas from Emma Davies Photography here.   I liked the pictures on my iPhone 7 more than the ones on my Sony A6000; the 16-50 kit lens I have with me isn’t ideal for this kind of food shot (in fact looking to replace it as soon as I’m back in Dubai as the camera is excellent).

Looking at ways to streamline my editing and save time as I spend hours fiddling around on Lightroom so thought I’d give A Color Story presets a go. I use the app on my iPhone to give my Instagram pics a degree of consistency. The effects are less gloomy and muted than VSCO and while I love that moody, filmic look, I think ACS is more suited to the light, bright place I live in most of the year.

I’d love to know what you think of the edits – I used variations of the Everyday preset from the Essentials range for most. It certainly halved my editing time.

Autumn is awesome

Cosy-ing down for Autumn here so will be making this soup again – please let me know if you try it. I’ve been taken off guard by how much I’m loving this season despite a week of brief sunshine and very heavy showers. It must be a couple of decades since I watched the leaves start to turn golden, the light change and the nights draw in; the morning mists, billowing clouds and wisps of salmon pink in the sunsets have me transfixed. I’m trying to resist the urge to buy warm jumpers and fur-lined boots, although succumbed to a rather gorgeous blanket from the National Trust. What do you love (or miss) about Autumn?

  1. Dave Reeder permalink
    September 18, 2017 2:00 pm

    I’ve used Riverford a number of times in the past and the quality is always superb. Didn’t realise that they did Padron peppers which I normally order from I have a few sweet potatoes that I wasn’t sure what to do with, so thank for the recipe – just have to get some organic tomatoes when I pop up to to the village later. Sure I’ve seen fresh turmeric in Dubai, in Indian and Thai food stores near the ginger… Yes, the food season is turning fast here in the UK though I’m still finding asparagus and there’s still enough sunshine to see the chilli plant I bought from our local flower shop coming along nicely – the chillies have a good bite to them, though I suspect the shop sold them as a decorative house plant! Autumn, of course, means all those great traditional British fruits…Any plans for Dartmoor this year?

    • September 18, 2017 2:59 pm

      They have all sorts of interesting things on the Riverford site – well worth a browse Dave. And I’m still here …!

  2. The Real Geordie Armani permalink
    September 18, 2017 2:12 pm

    I make a soup very similar to this one, you can find fresh tumeric in Lulu 🙂

    • September 18, 2017 3:00 pm

      Of course! Why did I not think of Lulu 😉

  3. September 18, 2017 2:51 pm

    Soup season is finally upon us and this recipe is at the top of my list to try…sounds and looks amazing!

    • September 18, 2017 3:01 pm

      Cheers Sarah, Would love to hear what you think. It went down very well here I must say.

  4. Danielle Martin permalink
    September 18, 2017 4:35 pm

    I have only used turmeric in curries before, but this looks like a great way to use it. Perfect for end of tomato season.

  5. September 18, 2017 4:59 pm

    It’s finally soup season! I am making soup at least once a week now, and this recipe looks great! Will definitely add it to my list!

  6. September 18, 2017 5:46 pm

    I am so intrigued by this combination of ingredients – I cannot wait to try this soup!

  7. September 18, 2017 5:51 pm

    I use turmeric all the time — and love the golden color it gives to food. This soup sounds amazing. I hear you about finding the right light… It can be a bear sometimes!

  8. September 18, 2017 7:37 pm

    What a beautiful soup! Wonderfully seasonal and surely very tasty. Fresh turmeric is a great addition to this dish.



  9. glamorous glutton permalink
    September 18, 2017 8:42 pm

    Funnily I signed up for Riverford at the weekend, I’m looking forward to discovering all the goodies. GG

  10. September 19, 2017 2:15 am

    Lovely recipe Sally – but you’ve scared me off using fresh turmeric – as a messy cook I can just see orange stains all over my white kitchen…..😊

  11. September 20, 2017 1:14 pm

    I really like Riverford, but we don’t have a regular enough schedule to have an ongoing subscription, and I hate ordering only to waste. Lovely photos, I’ve not used filter programmes, though I know it would potentially make my insta feed look more cohesive, I find it restricting a the same time.

  12. louiseriis permalink
    September 21, 2017 7:15 pm

    Oh wow… I am not a great cook, but I am sure, I can persuade my French boyfriend to make this recipe for me to enjoy! Thank you for all the tips on photography! I struggle a bit with light myself and the backgrounds are beautiful! Got to get me some of those! 🙂

    X Louise

  13. September 22, 2017 12:18 am

    This post is making me hungry – and your photography is beautiful! Don’t fret as we are our own harshest critics!

  14. September 22, 2017 1:07 pm

    As you know, I’m a huge fan of turmeric and have found that it has helped me out where antibiotics have failed. It’s a bonus that it goes so well in so many types of food – soups, curries of course, drinks, desserts and even popcorn. Your recipe is just beautiful (thanks for the nod re the milk) and I love your photography tips. I’ve just looked up the app and, lo and behold, it is available on Google Play. Downloading and activating it the weekend, so thanks so much for the tip off. What do you think is the best filter for food shots? I shoot on my garage floor so I can’t go too warm.

  15. September 22, 2017 3:53 pm

    Really liked the taste

  16. Dee permalink
    September 22, 2017 8:23 pm

    This sounds – and looks – amazing. I’m not much of a cook, but I do love soups in colder weather.

  17. September 23, 2017 10:39 pm

    Who doesn’t love a Spicy Sweet Potato garnished in Tomato? I love it. Never tried but, but I would want to make this in the near future.

  18. eatdrinkstaydubai permalink
    September 29, 2017 8:14 pm

    Aha, you’re probably going to spot the bloke now by just commenting on technical stuff…

    Ref the filters, I’d suggest it’s a balance between a consistent vibe to a feed and yet having the balance/power of flexibility in the filters used to bring out the different photos.

    ACS is a fantastic app, in fact one of the best for filters/editing on IOS (and that’s a big shout) and their filters cover so many types of photography, and in an easy-to-use app. I’d recommend everyone into Insta start with ACS for these reasons. DON’T be tempted to get loads of different apps/filter packages unless you want a feed like Joseph’s coat.

    However – one proviso – ultimately it comes down to workflow. Lightroom – and even Photoshop – are excellent options but bloggers and social media types may be put off paying that little extra. Lightroom especially is a superb tool for workflow even if it’s just import – filter – publish, and coupled with amazing filter sets like Trey Ratcliff/Stuck at Customers, Contrastly or On1 there’s bound to be something to suit.

    It’s no good having one workflow for mobile and one for desktop, as powerful as it may be, as it can reduce your options if you’re away from the desk or travelling.

    Seems to me that you’ve answered your own predicament – your phone takes fab photos and your edits are lovely 😉

    • March 7, 2018 10:40 am

      Really interested in what you have to say here and thanks for the vote of confidence. Will definitely check out the filter sets you suggest. Recently downloaded Kim Klassen’s and they are gorgeous.

  19. October 10, 2017 10:19 am

    The soup certainly looks deliciously warming Sally. Thank you for sharing the source of some of your backgrounds 🙂 I made an order with Captured by Lucy and they have safely arrived by post to Bahrain. I rarely use presets but if I do, I use the ones on Instagram when I take pictures with my iPhone. For my normal camera I use Lightroom edits. Maybe I need to take a look at color story.

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