I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
Whether you expect delicious vegan soul food or a plethora of recipes featuring sweet potatoes, Sweet Potato Soul: 100 Easy Vegan Recipes for the Southern Flavors of Smoke, Sugar, Spice, and Soul lives up to its title. Jenne Claiborne writes a blog by the same title, where you can get a taste of her simple Southern-inspired recipes. From ubiquitous southern staples like barbecue, collard greens, and mac ‘n cheese, to Cajun and Creole specialties like gumbo and etouffee, the recipes here contain every bit as much soul as their meaty counterparts. They’re often even quicker to make, since you’re not waiting for animal proteins to become tender.
Let’s start with the sweet potatoes. 20+ of the recipes contain sweet potatoes. There are the starring roles you’d expect – Sweet Potato Pie, Candied Yams, Skillet Home Fries – as well as more unusual applications such as Sweet Potato Hummus and Sweet Potato Granola (where the potatoes are shredded, not mashed). Sweet potatoes also play a supporting role in dishes like Georgia Pecan Pie, where they serve as an egg replacement.
Along with sweet potatoes, this book features many other southern staples: Collard greens – in a raw salad and stewed; peaches – in savory as well as sweet applications; cornmeal – in cornbread, waffles, and hushpuppies; and black-eyed peas in a variety of mains and sides. Your grocery store probably carries 99% of the ingredients used in this book. Jackfruit may be the most exotic, but even that you can probably find in canned form. Other unusual ingredients, like ume plum vinegar, you can order online.
Here’s a quick rundown of the recipes I’ve tried so far:
Pecan-sweet potato granola: as mentioned above, the sweet potatoes here are shredded, which adds an interesting texture. This is delicious, but I like granola clumps and this one is mostly loose. I think it could be remedied by not stirring during baking, though.
Sorghum cornmeal waffles: so good and crispy.
Turnip-the-heat butter bean soup: this one’s on me…I forgot that it takes forever to cook beans from dry at high altitude, so they ended up a bit crunchy. I’ll be trying it again, but in the Instant Pot.
Caribbean steamed cabbage: I loved the flavors of this, but it’s super spicy. Cut down on the jalapenos if you’re sensitive.
Bootylicious gumbo: This was amazing. I used store bought vegan sausages this time, but I want to try it with one of the homemade sausages in Sweet Potato Soul.
Oyster mushroom etouffee: Less spicy and in-your-face than the gumbo. This was my first time using oyster mushrooms and I love them.
Smoky black-eyed pea cakes: We really liked this. Just the right amount of smoky and spicy, with a crunchy coating.
Sweet potato-tahini cookies: Like the granola, these use shredded sweet potato. They’re an interesting twist on an oatmeal-PB cookie.
Other recipes I want to try: I started making a list, but couldn’t narrow it down!
What’s your favorite soul food?
Want more cookbook recommendations? Check them out here.