A Sweet Potato Surprise

It's officially winter here in Middle Tennessee, and I couldn't be happier! I just love it ... all of it ... the freezing cold, the snow on the sidewalks, the way I slip-and-slide from my car to the office door each morning, the warm fireplace and the super cuddle-icious cat it produces. I truly can't imagine a more delightful season. Last winter, we took a reprieve from the CSA and our locally-produced diets. Thrown back into the world of corporate groceries, food from far-flung corners of the globe, and desperately sad looking produce, I found myself craving the farm food. Of course I missed the taste, but I missed being connected to the season. It's such a sweet thing to be eating food when it is supposed to be eaten and I'll admit, I have little self-control at Whole Foods when I see asparagus on sale in December.

But this year we decided to try the winter CSA from our farm and we got our second box today. It's wonderful! It's totally different from the summertime, but in a good way. Two weeks ago our box had a chicken, bacon, a cabbage much larger than my head, stewed tomatoes, homemade applesauce, gigantic carrots and so much more.

This week, I was delighted to open my box and find a dozen sweet potatoes! Sweet potatoes! Oh, we love sweet potatoes around here and didn't get any toward the end of our summer CSA, so we've been anxiously awaiting their appearance.

I was also home from work early today, which never ever happens and afforded me the luxury of making a recipe the long way. I cheat a lot, I'll admit it. Not quite the LONG long way (I still used store-bought chicken broth), but I did have time to let it simmer with all kinds of veggies and such to make it taste better before it made its way into this sultry soup. Sultry is the right word ... rich, provocative flavors, blended perfectly, velvety and smooth. Sweet potato, chipotle, chicken thighs. It was fabulously rich and perfect for such a cold evening. The sweet potatoes shined but not in the standard, brown-sugary, dessert-ish way. Sweet potatoes and chipotles may be my new favorite flavor combination. Try it for yourself ... experience sweet potatoes in a whole new way!

Chipotle Chicken Tortilla Soup

The long way

Mel's way:

Stock:

- 1 yellow onion

- 2 carrots

- 3 stalks celery

- 5 cloves garlic

- 4 bay leaves

- 2 qts chicken stock

- 2 cups water

- 1 lb thawed chicken pieces (thighs or breast)

- Dice onion, carrots, celery, garlic. Simmer in olive oil and then add 2 quarts of store-bought chicken stock and water. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes.

- Add chicken pieces and simmer until cooked through.

- Remove chicken and skim solids off the top (get as many of the carrots, onions, and celery pieces as you can)

 

Soup:

- 1 clove

- pinch of whole peppercorns

- allspice

- adobo

- 2 tbsp chipotle in adobo sauce

- 1/2 yellow onion, chopped

- 1 cup brown rice

- 3 cups diced sweet potato

- 1 can drained black beans

 

- In a blender, puree the spices, chipotles in adobo, onion and 1 cup of the chicken stock

- Add spice puree to the stock

- Add rice and sweet potatoes; cover and simmer until rice and potatoes are fully cooked (20ish minutes)

- Meanwhile, shred the chicken pieces from earlier

- After rice and potatoes are done, add chicken and black beans to the soup

- Heat until warm; serve with fresh lime and avocado