Like kale, sweet potatoes have now made it in France. Not all that long ago, I used to have to hunt for the tubers at Thanksgiving, cruising the ‘exotic’ sections at large supermarket chainsand tracking down South American and Caribbean grocers who stocked them. Not anymore—several vegetable growers around Saint-Malo now sell sweet potatoes in the fall and Cancale’s mid-sized Super U carries them as well. Sweet potato prices have gone down as well—for a while there, my Thanksgiving sweet potato casserole was costing almost as much as the turkey. Consequently, I no longer have to limit my sweet potato consumption to once a year around the holidays. I can roast ‘em. I can use ‘em in potato salads and side dishes. IN fact, I’ve gotten so used to having them around, that I’m now throwing them in weeknight soups (potages) like this one.
I’ve dubbed this soup ‘Potage Magalie’ after the friend who brought me a small bottle of amchoor from Les Epices Roellinger when she came to dinner recently. (One definite upside to living in the same town as Roellinger’s Spice shop: You get some pretty great hostess gifts.) Her gift got me thinking about how I could use the fragrant, citrusy Indian spice in something other than a curry or a dal. Amchoor gives the soup a ‘what-is-that-flavor?’ tang, but you can also just use a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten the flavors. A little crème fraiche is the norm in France for any potage, but I think a swirl of coconut milk works even better in this one.
Potage Magalie (Sweet Potato Soup with Amchoor)
1 medium onion chopped (1 ½ cups)
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped (1 cup)
2 Tbs. butter or olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium-large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (1 ½ lb./750 mg.)
2 tsp. amchoor/amchur, divided, or 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Crème fraiche or coconut milk
Frozen, thawed peas, for garnish, optional
SAUTE the onion and pepper in the butter or olive oil 5 to 7 minutes, or until just beginning to brown. Stir in the garlic and sauté 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add the sweet potatoes, 1 teaspoon amchoor, and 4 cups (1 liter) water, and season with salt and pepper.
COVER, and simmer 25 to 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon amchoor or the fresh lemon juice.
PUREE the soup with an immersion blender or in a blender or food processor until smooth. Stir in some crème fraiche or coconut milk, if desired and adjust the seasonings to taste. Garnish with a few peas, if desired.