Curried Yam & Coconut Soup

So the name of this soup is a bit of a misnomer, depending on who you ask.

Real yams are hard to find in North America — but not everyone knows this, nor do they know what the difference between yams and sweet potatoes is.

The thing is that, around Vancouver, supermarkets tend to label white-fleshed tubers with tapered ends as “sweet potatoes”, and orange-fleshed tubers with tapered ends as “yams”. Also, I’ve noticed that a lot people around here just say “yam” when referring to all types of sweet potato — especially since bright orange, deep-fried “yam fries” are extremely popular in local restaurants and bars.

You can see how people might get confused.

Either way, I’m not going to stop using the word “yam” for sweet potato. I grew up using the word yam, and I don’t really feel like correcting myself (and everybody else around here) anytime soon.

Yam, yam, yam.

So, on to this week’s soup! It’s perfect for fall, but it doesn’t really taste like fall: it’s a seasonal soup, with an out-of-season twist.

Coconut and lime make me think of lying on a warm beach with white sand — the sound of crashing surf on the shore, a piña colada within arm’s reach. They’re perfect companions for the earthy sweetness of yams and the pungent notes of curry, especially when you need a little bit of escape from the dreariness of winter (even if only in your food).

And, for those of you who hate cilantro, I’ve included a cilantro-free version of this soup at the bottom of the list of ingredients, although I don’t think the cilantro-free version will take your taste buds quite so far from home.

Curried Yam & Coconut Soup

*adapted from Pantry Raid


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 6 cups orange-fleshed yams, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder or paste
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoon cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • zest and juice from half a lime
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Cilantro-Haters Option (non-vegan):

  • replace coconut milk with 1 & 1/2 cups whole milk
  • replace cilantro with fresh parsley
  • replace cinnamon with nutmeg
  • replace lime with orange


In a large soup pot over medium heat, saute your chopped white onion in olive oil. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onion starts to go translucent — stir in garlic and curry powder, then cook an additional minute.

Next, drop your chopped yams into the pot and toss well with the onions, garlic, and oil. Cook, without stock, for about 10 minutes, until the edges of the yam start to soften.

Add the vegetable stock and cover the pot.

Simmer for approximately 30 minutes, until the yams are tender all the way through, and easily broken apart with a fork.

Remove the soup from the stove top and allow to cool slightly for safer handling.

Puree the soup in batches in a food processor, blending until very smooth. If you have an immersion blender, then just puree the soup in the pot. It should be very thick at this point, but that’s okay — adding a whole can of coconut milk will thin the soup out to a more liquid consistency.

Once pureed, return your soup to medium-low heat. Add a whole can of coconut milk. Stir in your spices and cilantro. Grate a bit of lime zest into the soup, then squeeze in the juice of half a lime to finish.

Allow the soup to warm on the stove and let the flavours mingle a bit — about 10 minutes or so should do the trick.

Top with croutons or crackers and serve warm! Yum!

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4 thoughts on “Curried Yam & Coconut Soup

  1. Babygirl says:

    First off let me just say, I love the name of this blog. The Curried Yam & Coconut Soup sounds decadent and divine. I can’t wait for me and my mom to try this receipe.

  2. Brandon says:

    Besides the fact that I drooled onto my laptop when I set my eyes on the hot, thick, rich, viscous, savory, spicy, satisfying curried yam and coconut soup which you have depicted–and that should serve as proof that I will attempt to replicate such a concoction the coming U.S. Thanksgiving–the commentary on “yam” vs. “sweet potato” fascinates me, of course. That’s the thing about language. It changes. It adapts. “Yam”, which used to mean a white-fleshed tuber, now means basically the same thing as an orange-fleshed “sweet potato” in North America, largely because of the association made by black slaves. It’s one of those things where a word acquires new meanings based on new demand, not because of precedence. In other words, a thing has meaning because of its adaptability and relevance, not because of its old-fashioned reputation.

  3. Mmm … this is one of my favourite soups!

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