I went to the dentist today, so I have joined Jan’s soft food diet for the day. Despite last night’s yam fail, she sent me a Martha Stewart recipe she wanted me to try. It is not really in my nature “to do” Martha Stewart. I did not change everything about the recipe, but just about. This is more of a “inspired by” rather than an “adapted from” recipe.
Americans get very confused when dealing with sweet potatoes and yams. In most stores in the U.S. and Canada the vegetables labeled as a “yam” is actually a sweet potato. A sweet potato is the root tuber of the morning glory plant. “Real” yams are a different plant species all together, Dioscorea, and 95% of them are grown in West Africa.
This confusion has existed since colonial times, but the U.S.D.A. cemented the mistake into the American consciousness by formally labeling orange-fleshed sweet potatoes as “yams.” There are several other varieties of sweet potatoes, but true yams are hard to find, outside of West Africa, and are frequently much larger than the small American tubers.
Note: This is not to be further confused with “true yams” which are a tropical sweet potato. Follow the last two links to see the actual differences in appearance.
It is clear that in her recipe, from the color of the soup and her description of removing the potato from the skins, that Martha Stewart was using what most Americans would call a yam. Technically she is correct and “sweet potato soup” sounds so much nicer than “yam soup.” I choose to use the much thinner-skinned and lighter-fleshed sweet potatoes. Which potato you chose to use is to your own preference.
Note: See the directions for the difference in separating the potatoes from their skins.
After Dinner Note: This soup came out really well, flavorful and filling. I do not even like high keratin smooth soups, but I liked this. I prefer soups I can chew on. Jan really liked it as well, but part of that may have been that it was not a smoothie (after a week, she is really getting tired of those).
Karl’s Curried Sweet Potato Soup with Apple Crème Fraîche
2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (2 to 3)
2 Tbs. butter (or olive oil for Vegan)
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
Pinch Kosher salt
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 tart apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
½ Jalapeño pepper, ribs and seeds removed, thinly sliced
5 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
½ Tbs. curry powder
2 tsp. brown sugar
½ tsp. black pepper
½ cup dry white wine (or sherry)
4 cups vegetable broth
1 Green onion, green part only, chopped finely
1. Wash the sweet potatoes and prick the skins 5-6 times with a fork.
Tip: This is to let the steam escape while you are cooking the potatoes, so they do not explode all over your microwave.
2. Put the sweet potatoes on a microwave safe plate and cover them, loosely, with a paper towel.
Tip: Again in case they explode.
3. Microwave on high for 4 minutes, flip the potatoes over, and continue microwaving for 3 minutes more.
Tip: If a knife slides into the potato easily, then they are done. If they are not done, continue microwaving on high for 2 minutes or more depending on how big your sweet potatoes are.
Note: If you are not using the potato skins, there is no flavor difference between microwaving a sweet potato for eight minutes and baking it for an hour, but there is a large energy use difference.
4. Cool the potatoes enough to be able to handle them. Remove and discard the skins. Coarsely chop the potatoes and reserve for later.
Tip: If you are using thin-skinned light-fleshed sweet potatoes, use a paring knife or kitchen tweezers to pull the skins away from the potato flesh. If you are using the thick-skinned orange-fleshed yams, cut them in half length-wise and scrap the potato from the skins.
5. Melt the butter in a large soup pot and sauté the onions with the salt, over medium high heat, until starting to caramelize, about 15 minutes.
Tip: The salt helps release the moisture in the onions and speed up the caramelization process.
6. Add the red bell pepper, apple, and Jalapeño pepper and continue sautéing for 5 more minutes.
Note: You may use more Jalapeño if you wish. I was limited on the spiciness level, because of Jan’s surgery.
7. Pull the contents of the pot to the edges and add the garlic, curry powder, brown sugar and pepper to the hole in the center, sauté one minute, until fragrant. Mix the vegetables together and continue cooking for two more minutes.
Tip: You want to give the brown sugar time to caramelize a bit.
8. Add the wine, the sweet potatoes and half of the vegetable broth to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce the head, and cover the pot. Simmer for 20 minutes.
9. Remove the pot from the heat and add one cup of broth to cool the soup.
10. In a standing blender process the soup until smooth.
Tip: You will most likely need to do this in batches.
11. Return the soup to the pot and use the last cup of broth to rinse out the blender jar.
Tip: For a thicker soup, use only half a cup of broth to rinse out the blender. This choice may also depend on how many and how hungry your diners are.
12. Simmer the soup for 10 more minutes to meld and thicken the soup.
13. Mix the apple sauce and crème fraîche in a small bowl.
14. Serve the apple sauce mixture and the chopped green onion on the side to garnish individual bowls of soup as your diners desire.