Specialty of the House: Sweet Potato Tasso Ham Soup

February 23, 2013 

Wonder if you might be able to get a recipe for us. We ate at Battistella’s in Raleigh Friday night, and my husband loved the sweet potato and tasso ham soup. Any way you can get the chef to share it with us?

Donna and Warren White

Zebulon

This recipe from chef Brian Battistella is a lesson in how professional cooks are masters at turning leftovers into new delicious dishes.

Battistella said this soup was born out of a need to use leftover baked sweet potatoes.

“We’re really big on utilizing every part of the vegetable, every part of the animal,” Battistella explained.

Tasso, a Cajun ham, is an excellent match for the sweetness of the potatoes and the cane syrup. Both tasso ham and cane syrup can be hard to find but are available in the Triangle. Southern Season sells cane syrup and Whole Foods stores carry tasso ham. If you don’t want to make a special shopping trip, Battistella says home cooks can substitute maple syrup for the cane syrup and cooked bacon or country ham for the tasso ham.

Battistella is a refuge from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. He had a takeout shop in Clayton and a restaurant at the old Crabtree Inn before opening this downtown Raleigh restaurant in 2011. Last year, News & Observer restaurant critic Greg Cox gave the restaurant a four-star review and named it among the Triangle’s best new restaurants in 2012.

Sweet Potato Tasso Ham Soup Chef Brian Battistella of Battistella’s in Raleigh recommends using a stick or immersion blender to get the desired consistency. 3 medium sweet potatoes 1/2 large onion 3-4 garlic cloves 2 tablespoons butter 8 cups vegetable stock 1 cup small diced tasso ham or 8 slices cooked bacon, finely diced 1/4 cup cane syrup or maple syrup 1 cup heavy cream Salt, black and white pepper to taste Sliced green onions for garnish

HEAT oven to 350 degrees. Place sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 30 to 45 minutes until easily pierced with a knife. Remove each potato from oven when it is done and set aside until cool enough to handle.

PULSE onion in a food processor until finely diced. You want to end up 1/2 cup diced onion. Pulse the garlic cloves in the food processor until finely minced. You want to end up 1 tablespoon minced garlic.

MELT butter in a large Dutch oven or stock pot over low heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté over low heat until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add vegetable stock, tasso ham or chopped cooked bacon if using and cane syrup or maple syrup, if using. Whisk in the sweet potatoes or use an immersion blender if you have one at this point. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Then add heavy cream and season to taste with salt and pepper.

GARNISH with green onions if desired. Serve immediately. Yield: 10-12 servings

Specialty of the House gets recipes for local restaurant dishes. Send requests, including your city, to Specialty of the House, c/o The News & Observer, 215 S. McDowell St., Raleigh, NC, 27601, 919-829-4848 or e-mail aweigl@newsobserver.com.

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