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Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup

Because of their excellent storage properties, sweet potatoes often appear at farmers markets throughout the winter. This warming first dish utilizes some of the sweet potatoes in your "root cellar" (i.e., refrigerator storage bin).

Ingredients
2 large sweet potatoes (or 3 to 4 medium)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter or olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled & sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger root
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
Juice of 1 lime
Salt to taste
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Instructions
Scrub the sweet potatoes and pierce several times with a fork. Microwave on high for 4 to 5 minutes, until sweet potatoes are easily pierced with a knife. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

In a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter (or heat the olive oil). Add the cumin and red pepper flakes and stir for a few seconds, then add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened, taking care to not let them brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and continue to cook about 1 minute more, until onions are translucent. Add 3 cups of vegetable or chicken stock. Cut open the sweet potatoes lengthwise, and then use a fork to scrape the flesh away from the skin. Add to the soup pot and cook for a few more minutes.

To puree, use an immersion blender or a stand blender very carefully, in small batches, to prevent overflow and possible burns. Return the pureed soup to the pot over medium heat and whisk in the peanut butter and lime juice. If the soup is too thick, stir in some of the remaining stock. Season to taste with salt.

To serve, ladle into bowls and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

Makes 6 servings