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Food & Drink

Sweet potatoes spruce up everyday meals

| Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012, 8:56 p.m.

Sweet potatoes are a holiday favorite of mine, but they didn't make the cut on my crowded Thanksgiving menu. Lately, I've been slipping them into my everyday cooking.

Here, I use them just as I would use a regular potato, in a chowder-style soup bolstered by other seasonal flavors. As a finishing touch, I add sauteed apple cubes just before the soup is done so the apple cubes don't dissolve.

Serve with a chicken sandwich or before a roast pork dinner. It's also great as a meal with a hunk of whole-grain bread and a cucumber salad.

The chowder is just as good — or, maybe better — the next day.

Stephanie Witt Sedgwick is a contributing writer to The Washington Post.

Wild Rice, Sweet Potato and Apple Chowder

4 teaspoons olive oil, divided

1 large (8 ounces) onion, finely chopped (a scant 2 cups)

Kosher salt

2 teaspoons ground cumin, or to taste

34 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 12 cups homemade or no-salt-added chicken broth

2 12 cups unsweetened apple cider

34 cup uncooked wild rice

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 pound (1 large or 2 medium-size) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 12-inch cubes (3 cups)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and cut into 14-inch cubes

Chopped, fresh chives, for garnish, optional

Heat 3 teaspoons of the oil in a 4-quart soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt; cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes, until the onion starts to soften. Add the cumin and nutmeg; cook for 30 seconds, stirring. Pour in the broth and cider; bring the liquid to a boil, increasing the heat as needed. Stir in the wild rice; season with salt and pepper to taste. After the liquid returns to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to medium-low (or as needed) so the liquid maintains a low, steady boil. Cook for 20 minutes; add the sweet-potato cubes, then cover and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until the wild rice and sweet potatoes are tender.

While the chowder is cooking, heat the remaining teaspoon of oil with the butter in a large (10-inch) a nonstick saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the apple cubes and saute for 4 to 5 minutes, tossing them every 30 seconds or so, until the apple cubes are evenly coated, cooked through and lightly browned. Remove from the heat.

Taste the chowder, and adjust the seasoning as needed. Add the sauteed apple. Cook (over medium-low heat) for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped chives, if desired.

Makes a generous 8 cups

Nutrition information per serving: 200 calories, 5 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 10 milligrams cholesterol, 4 grams protein, 37 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams dietary fiber, 105 milligrams sodium

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