Winter’s last gasp (I hope)

Being gooled again by the pink blossoms and daffodils into thinking it’s spring makes the 30-degree weather we have now that much worse. It will be gone soon, but in the meantime this soup can brighten your outlook. North Carolina is the nation’s No. 1 producer of sweet potatoes – now, don’t say you didn’t learn anything today. The cold weather brought this soup back into my cooking lineup. You know how you forget about recipes sometimes – I’d forgotten how good this one is, and that it’s such a crowd pleaser. Make it vegetarian by substituting water for the chicken broth. You can peel and boil the sweet potatoes, but I prefer to roast them because roasting deepens the flavor – and you can do that part a day ahead.

Spiced Sweet Potato Soup

Makes 6 servings

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, olive oil or ghee

1 cup chopped onions

1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala or curry powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 clove garlic, chopped

2 pounds sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed

3 cups chicken broth or water

1 (5.46-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk

Salt to taste

Juice of 1/2 of a fresh lime

Chopped toasted pecans

Put a large pot on medium heat and add the butter, olive oil or ghee. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until they are brown, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger, garam masala or curry powder, cinnamon and garlic, and cook for about 10 seconds.

Add the cooked sweet potatoes and chicken broth or water. Remove the pot from the heat and use a stick blender to puree until smooth. (Alternatively, cool down the mixture and pour carefully into a blender to puree, then return it to the pot.) Return the pot to medium heat, stir in the coconut milk and heat until it is steaming hot. Taste, then add salt, and stir in the lime juice. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes. When serving, garnish each bowl with chopped pecans.