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  • Writer's pictureThe Rough & Tumble

The Rumbly Tummy: Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

"So what are your favorite things to make on the road?" she asked.

We met our pal John's mom in the Ingles parking lot the night before, and she was starting to write a blog about her time on the road-- and the people they met along the way. We were in Black Mountain, NC-- our old stomping grounds-- which means we were always running into people we knew or kinda knew. And John's mom kinda knows us. And we were the people on the road she met along the way.

We've been camper living for over a year and a half, and our lives have significantly improved dietar-ily. There were dark times where Scott thought the end of our granola pile with cheese was a good idea. Or cutting said cheese with a loose key sterilized by a lighter flame. Things were getting rough.

But since camper living, we've been riding high on the vegetarian hog-- peanut butter tofu and leftover vegetable magic curry and the occasional break for a fancy salmon dinner. So, what do we make on the road? Anything we can manage. Mallory even recently learned to make biscuits on a stovetop one Sunday afternoon in an abandoned Vermont state park.

And then we got an idea-- what if we just told you what we are making? This is The Rumbly Tummy edition of our blog. The first Wednesday of every month, we are going have our culinary month in review, and give you the recipe for our favorite-- or at least the dish that made us happiest at the time. Then, you can print them (does anyone print, anymore?) and try your hand at it, too. Let us know how it goes.

After this September without a camper due to repairs, everything tasted great in the camper-- no more bagged salads or Taco Bell for us. But when leaving our home turf in North Carolina as the air was getting colder, two dogs in tow, and our compasses set north for colder weather still, we were needing something fall festive and spicy warm. Luckily, we had just played the Jonesborough, TN Farmer's Market the previous weekend, and we were gifted with the largest sweet potato we had ever seen. Mallory had already used half of it to make a double batch of African Yam Stew, and there was still a larger-than-a-softball amount left. With no room in our tiny fridge, Mallory whipped up Spicy Sweet Potato soup in about an hour and The R&T were full and happy and on their way to Floyd, Virginia.

You're going to need a large pot and a blender for this. If you're like The R&T, you may need to cross the Ingles parking lot to the outside outlet on the side of the gas station for electricity to run said blender. Also, if you have minimal camper kitchen counter space, things might get a little messy.

Our teeny tiny kitchen.

Spicy Sweet Potato Soup


1 TBSP oil (we used coconut)

1 large onion, diced

3/4 c celery, diced

2 carrots, cubed

3 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 jalapenos w/ or w/out seeds depending on spice preference (we LOVE extra spice)

3 tsp cumin

2 tsp chili powder

dash of cayenne pepper

2 tsp fresh ginger, minced or shredded

4-6 cups vegetable broth

3 cups sweet potato, cubed (butternut squash if a fun substitute)

dash or two of smoked paprika

1/4 c fresh lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

Fun topping options:

Greek yogurt (helps to decrease the spice if you "accidentally" go overboard)

chopped green onion


pumpkin seeds


1. Heat oil in a large soup pot. Toss in onion, celery, carrots, garlic, and jalapenos. Sautee on high heat til browning (this requires restraining yourself from stirring. Something Scott isn't so good at).

2. Throw in cumin, chili powder, cayenne, ginger. Stir briefly til fragrant, then add vegetable broth to stop cooking.

3. Add sweet potatoes, bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to a strong simmer. Cook for about 40 minutes til sweet potatoes are falling apart (this is a good time to take the dogs for a walk around the parking lot and worry about the open flame in your camper).

4. Add smoked paprika, then transfer mixture into a blender. Blend til smooth (if you like it a little chunky, use your judgement, or keep some of the veggies waiting back in the pot whole). Place mixture back in pot.

5. Stir in lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste. Assess the situation and see if you want a little more smoked paprika-- it's usually a yes in this family.

6. Ladle out and top with something from the "Fun Toppings" section. Or everything from that section.

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