AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Sweet Potato Vichyssoise DATE: 11/20/2008 06:23:00 PM ----- BODY:
While we think of sweet potatoes as a winter vegetable, they are actually grown in the summer. Shooting up green vines from the earth, each plant will yield up to 5 pounds of this sweet tuber. They last for months if stored properly in a root cellar. Two months after harvest, I'm still enjoying my stash that I brought back with me to Cambridge.

An interesting factoid about sweet potatoes: they actually get sweeter after they've been harvested. Once the plant is cut away, a chemical reaction occurs turning the starches into sugars. As such,the sweet potatoes need to cure for at least one week after harvesting before eating or cooking.

There are dozens of varieties of sweet potatoes -- both white and orange. Typically, in New England, you'll find jewel. To hear Brett describe them, they are pure sugar. His favorite varieties are white hamon and beauregard. These offer sweet, nuanced and balanced flavor.

Here are some more thoughts from Brett about sweet potatoes:

Very large sweet potatoes are unjustly scorned by novices, but old-time Southern cooks treasure the mammoths for ease of use. They also know that a slowly grown but big sweet potato is more flavorful than a typical conventionally grown, smaller sweet potato whose growth was rushed and babied with agricultural chemicals.

Different sweet potato cultivars have markedly different flesh colors and flavors. The white types (actually beige, to my eye) usually have a nuttier, nuanced suite of flavors, and often a less creamy and more stringy texture, than the orange types. White Hamon is an exception, being both very sweet and creamy and with a unique beige-pale green flesh when cooked in certain ways. We will let you know the names of the types you are receiving. I personally prefer the white kinds for savory roasted uses and the orange types for pies, but there is naught more subjective than palate opinions.
Sweet Potato Vichyssoise is a fantastic summer-time chilled soup, but can also be served hot on a cold winter evening.

3 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk
4 garlic clove
1/4 cup white wine
2 medium large sweet potatoes
4 cups water
2 leek -- washed
1/4 cup cream

1. Heat pot over medium heat. Add 2 tbs. butter. Add onions, garlic, leeks and celery. Sweat for about 5 minutes. Deglaze with white wine

2. Add potatoes and water. Simmer for about 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

3. Puree soup. Add cream. Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice

4. Chill soup.

5. While soup is chillin', heat a large sauté pan over high heat. Add remaining butter, corn, shallots and garlic. Sauté without shaking the pan, for 3 minutes, or until the corn becomes sweetly aromatic. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

6. Puree chipotle peppers with 1/4 cup water and 1 tbs. red wine vinegar

7. When soup is chilled, garnish with
a- corn and a drizzle of the chipotle puree, or
b- spicy sausage and scallions

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous bostontparties DATE:11/20/2008 08:52:00 PM my personal favorite is the japanese sweet potato -it tastes exactly like a chestnut, only it's huge. and purple-skinned. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Bishop 22 DATE:11/20/2008 10:27:00 PM Personally, I like the garnet. I like the red of the skin and the orange inside. I don't really like the texture of the white ones, which is part of the fun of eating them ... ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) DATE:11/21/2008 08:59:00 AM This soup would be a great variation on the gooey sweet potatoes often served at Thanksgiving dinners. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger jesse DATE:11/21/2008 12:59:00 PM Ohhh I have to agree with bostontparties... the Japanese sweet potato is my favourite potato of all! But wow, your soup looks so comforting... =) ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:11/21/2008 04:26:00 PM BostonTparties, Is that the yamakaki? or a different variety. I've only had the yamakaki shredded with tuna sashimi. The texture is quite unique.

Bishop22, Texture counts for so much, doesn't it?

Lydia, You make a good suggestion -- perhaps use a little less broth and serve it as a pureed side dish with corn and sausage on top! YUM!

Jesse, Now I'm thinking this is a different variety all together! I must find it and try it! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger LKB DATE:12/07/2008 06:16:00 PM Hi Julia - this sounds yummy, but i don't see corn and peppers in the recipe list. I am missing something? Can you send it to me?

Hope you are well, LKB ----- --------