How do YOU choose a sweet potato? You know, to be sure you get the sweetest, most flavorful of the bunch? I was taught that the darker the outside of the sweet potato, richer and sweeter the flavor. And I've found it to be true over the years. Which brings me to how I ended up finding a whole new variety I never knew existed...and that I think is even better than all the rest, though decidedly different.
I was stalking the perfect sweet potato in the aisles of Whole Foods just looking for the best ones possible for Christmas dinner. At the top of the display there were some very dark red, almost purple, sweet potatoes...that HAD to be the best ever. The sign said "Garnet Sweet Potatoes." Great!
Christmas dinner preparations began and the sweet potatoes were tucked into the oven for a good roasting. Later, upon cutting them open at the dinner table, we found not soft, dark orange flesh, but a firmer potato of a soft golden color. My selection method had failed! But did it really?
Once buttered, seasoned and TASTED, we soon found these were no ordinary sweet potatoes. Both the texture and taste were somewhere between an Idaho baking potato and a sweet potato. And we like them even better! And we wanted more!
The next trip to Whole Foods, I headed straight to the same table and found the sign had been changed. The "Garnet" designation now had been moved to another area and a new sign declared my new favorite potato "Japanese Sweet Potatoes." Aha! So I bought another bunch of them and spread the word to potato pickers next to me. They bought them, too. Now what to do with them other than a simple baking...not that there's anything wrong with that.
And so I adapted the old standard Houlihan's Baked Potato Soup into a whole new recipe. I used coconut milk in place of milk, I added Thai Red Curry Paste and toasted coconut, a curry hot sauce that I recently got as a gift from a dear, sweet friend ...plain old potato soup was transformed into something a little sweet, a little hot, and just a little exotic. And totally delicious!
Japanese Sweet Potato Red Curry Soup with Coconut
- 2 med Japanese sweet potatoes, baked, peeled and cubed
- 3 T butter (or even better, coconut oil!)
- 2 cups diced onions
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 5 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup instant potato flakes
- 2 t hot sauce (I used a lovely curry hot sauce, but use your favorite)
- 2 T Thai red curry paste
- 1 t Thai fish sauce
- 1 cup fat free evaporated milk
- 1 can light coconut milk
- salt and pepper, to taste
- sliced green onions
- 1/2 cup toasted coconut flakes
- Melt butter (or coconut oil) in soup pot & add onions. Saute over low heat for 10 minutes or until onions are translucent.
- Add cornstarch and Thai red curry paste to onions and cook 4-5 minutes, stirring well.
- Add potato flakes to a large bowl, gradually add chicken stock stirring to incorporate well.
- Add slowly to onion mixture, stirring constantly over medium heat and continue cooking to a gentle simmer.
- Add evaporated milk and coconut milk, stirring until smooth and slightly thickened. Simmer gently for 15 minutes. Do not boil.
- Add potatoes, hot sauce and fish sauce, simmer gently for another 15 minutes.
- Remove from heat, ladle into bowls, top with sliced green onions and toasted coconut flakes.