Many weeks ago, I saw a cooking challenge that featured produce from the White House garden. It featured Bobby Flay, Emeril Lagasse, Mario Batali, and the head chef for the White House. I can remember the chefs and what was cooked, but not the name of the show…

Nevertheless, both teams used sweet potatoes because Michelle Obama had mentioned that her family enjoyed eating them. While I love potatoes, I’m not a potato connoisseur and until I watched the program, I didn’t know the difference between a yam and a sweet potato.

When we lived in Texas, I used to buy yams, mainly because I was intrigued by the color and shape. For dinner, I often microwaved a yam; scrapped out the flesh; mashed it with butter, nutmeg, and brown sugar; then lumped half on Rich’s plate and half on mine.

Once we moved to Washington, our yam consumption plummeted, replaced by fingerling potatoes, sliced thin, seasoned and baked until crisp.

Because of the fuss over sweet potatoes on the cooking challenge, I decided to invest in one, a giant tuber that was the size of three normal-sized baking potatoes. Last week, with a bin full of starting to flower broccoli, I peeled the sweet potato, chopped it into chunks then combined it with coarsely chopped broccoli and onions. I boiled the concoction for an hour or so, pureed it, then added several cups of slightly steamed diced broccoli.

Yike! Sweet potatoes are very SWEET. My intended broccoli soup was more like… broccoli-flavored vanilla pudding! Rich recommended salt, which barely cut the sweetness. Determined to redeem my soup, I tossed in a handful of dried oregano. Voila! It wasn’t bad. In fact, I’ve been eating the soup for lunch all week.

In the future, I’m going to take the word “sweet” literally when I decide to use sweet potatoes for cooking!

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