I won't lie: It's challenging to eat a low-fat, whole-food, plant-based diet during the holidays. Everywhere I turn, I'm confronted with disease-promoting foods: casseroles, cookies, cakes, and candies loaded with fat, refined flour, and sugar.
For heaven's sake, I can't even walk into the drug store without being assaulted by chocolate Santas and peanut butter Christmas trees and all sorts of other "foods" designed to trigger my fat and sugar cravings. (And oh, how they do!)
If this sounds like a bit of a rant, it is.
Because the holidays aren't about scarfing "goodies" that promote heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. And they sure aren't about gaining 10 pounds we'll have to struggle with come January. They're about embracing life, celebrating our blessings, and sharing nourishing food with one another. Food that leaves us feeling better than when we started.
Comforting, Satisfying—and Nutritious
So I'd like to offer up a soup that tastes every bit as good as the decadent stuff, but without all the guilt: Low-Fat Leek and Sweet Potato Bisque. It tastes so rich that no one will know it's healthy—unless you tell them. In fact, one serving delivers
- 345% of your daily value of vitamin A
- 33% of your calcium
- 26% of your vitamin C
- 10% of your iron
As for the secret to this soup's success? Leeks! They're sweet, in season, and rich in soluble fiber, which helps give this bisque its smooth, creamy texture. Better yet, that same soluble fiber is a prebiotic, which encourages the growth of beneficial flora in your gut.
While this soup does take a little time to make, it's surprisingly easy—especially if you have an immersion blender. In fact, the hardest part for me was trying to keep myself from nibbling at the mellow, meltingly tender leeks as they cooked down.
Low-Fat Leek and Sweet Potato Bisque
The perfect starter for a festive dinner, this soup can be made up to 3 days in advance and reheated before serving.
Prep Time: 50 minutes Serves: 6–8
3 medium sweet potatoes (about 2¼ lbs total)
3 large leeks, white and light green parts only
5-6 c unsweetened almond milk
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp nutmeg (more or less to taste)
¼ tsp ground ginger (more or less to taste)
stevia (liquid or powder) to taste
Scrub sweet potatoes, then poke each with a knife a few times.
Cut each sweet potato in half and arrange in a single layer in a large microwave-safe casserole dish. Add a thin layer of water to the bottom, cover, and microwave for 16–18 minutes, until sweet potatoes are completely tender, turning them over halfway through cooking. (Note: If you don't want to use the microwave, wrap each whole potato in aluminum foil and bake at 350°F for 1–1½ hours until centers are tender when pierced with a fork.)
While sweet potatoes are cooking, cut the base and green top off each leek. Slice lengthwise and rinse thoroughly between layers to remove any grit.
Slice leeks across the grain into half-inch semicircles.
In a large stockpot over medium heat, cook leeks, covered, for 5 minutes, stirring every minute or so. If you notice leeks beginning to stick, add a little water.
Reduce heat to low and continue cooking leeks, covered, for another 20 minutes. Stir every 2–3 minutes and add a little water (1–2 Tbsp) as needed to prevent sticking.
Remove pot from heat and scoop flesh from sweet potatoes (no skin) into the pot with the leeks.
Add 4 c almond milk, salt, nutmeg, and ginger to pot. Blend until smooth using an immersion blender. Add another 1–2 cups of almond milk until soup is just sippable. Sweeten to taste with stevia.
(No immersion blender? Working in batches in a blender, puree leeks, sweet potatoes, salt, and spices with just enough almond milk to facilitate mixing. And remember: Don't fill your blender more than half full when working with hot foods, as steam buildup during blending can be dangerous. Return the puree to the pot, and whisk in the rest of the almond milk, adding stevia to taste.)
Warm over low heat if needed, stirring constantly. Serve hot with a sprinkle of nutmeg.
Nutrition Info (⅛ of recipe): 114 calories, 18 calories from fat, 2g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 276mg sodium, 283mg potassium, 23g carbohydrates, 4g fiber, 7g sugar, 2g protein.
Calorie ratio: 77% calories from carbohydrates, 16% calories from fat, 7% calories from protein.