Spicy Sweet Potato and Chicken Soup

spicy sweet potato soup
This is super yummy soup comes from Mel's Kitchen Cafe. I L-O-V-E-D it! I've realized I'm not great at describing the meals I make other than saying whether or not I loved them, but this one I really did :-)! It was filling, had just enough spice, a great combination of flavors and is pretty healthy too. I couldn't wait to have leftovers for lunch the next day! Although I haven't loved the cooler temps we have had recently, I am glad I can enjoy a great bowl of soup without sweating!

1 tablespoon butter
1 red onion, finely diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
7-8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 pounds chicken, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, or use about 3-4 cups of shredded, cooked chicken (I used 2 cans chicken)
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/- inch pieces
1 can (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I used 1/2 t)
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
3 bay leaves
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper

In a large pot (4 or 5 quarts), melt butter over medium heat and add onions. Cook, stirring often, about 5-6 minutes, until softened. Add bell pepper, celery, and garlic. Cook 5-6 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender. Add remaining ingredients (don’t add the cooked chicken, if using, you’ll add it near the end), stir well, and bring to a low boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, for about 40-45 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and chicken is cooked through. If using cooked chicken, stir it in at this point and let it heat through. Discard bay leaves and serve.