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Go With the Glow

November 04, 1998|LEILAH BERNSTEIN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Deep-orange, red-skinned sweet potatoes mean autumn to me. It's true that you can get sweet potatoes year-round, but when the days grow shorter and temperatures fall, they give the table such a welcome inviting glow.

A Times home economist, Anita Bennett, wrote of the sweet potato's charm in the Oct. 10, 1948, issue of the Los Angeles Times Home Magazine. And she provided half a dozen sweet potato recipes, including one for Louisiana "yam" soup.

"Take a tip from Southern homemakers," she wrote, "and serve golden nutritious sweet potatoes in a variety of delicious dishes. . . . [They] are an important as well as economical source of food energy, vitamins and minerals."

Of the soup, she wrote: "It will give a different flavor to your menus." Bennett's soup recipe called for three cups of milk, but we used two cups of cream instead, because the milk made the soup too runny. For more flavor, we roasted the sweet potatoes with garlic and olive oil instead of boiling them plain as Bennett suggested. We also found it best to blend the mixture until it became very smooth and velvety. Bennett's version, served straight from the stove, had a rather mealy texture.

This version will not only taste good, it will look good, too. The soup has a wonderful orange-pink color, accented by tiny fried yam cubes floating on top. And then, of course, there's that glow.

Louisiana Sweet Potato Soup

Total Preparation Time: 45 minutes * Active Work Time: 15 minutes * Vegetarian Adaptable

2 large red-skinned sweet potatoes

3 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt

2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1/4 cup butter

2 cups whipping cream

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Peel and cut 1 sweet potato into 2-inch chunks. Place in roasting pan with garlic cloves. Drizzle olive oil over and sprinkle with salt to taste. Roast at 400 degrees until tender, about 25 minutes. Mash roasted potato and garlic through sieve.

Stir broth into yam mixture and add 2 tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon salt and whipping cream. Cook over medium heat 2 minutes. Blend soup in blender until very smooth. Taste for salt and add more if needed. Sprinkle with nutmeg.

Cut second yam into 1/2-inch cubes to make at least 1 cup. Fry in remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat until crisp and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Float "croutons" on top of each soup serving.

6 cups. Each (1-cup) serving: 360 calories; 722 mg sodium; 120 mg cholesterol; 36 grams fat; 6 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams protein; 0.11 gram fiber.

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