Sweet Potato Soup with Sorghum Butter continues use of country ham

Sweet potato soupGourmandistan has been going through our chunked, frozen remnants of Thanksgiving country ham much faster than we’ve ever used Steve’s home-cured guanciale. Our freezer holds quite a few packages of cured pork jowl, which have been waiting to be made into pasta carbonara or spuma. (Michelle, who despises spuma and always finds better options than pasta carbonara, wishes the guanciale packages would simply disappear, and may aid them in doing so someday.)

Country Ham

The Newsom’s ham, however, has been called out on several occasions to enhance Gourmandistani dishes, and we must say neither of us is above eating salty strings of the stuff while supposedly prepping it for use, so we’re given to getting out a bit “extra.” In addition to bean soup, some XO sauce and surreptitious snacking, Michelle also adapted a Linton Hopkins recipe for roasted sweet potato soup, swapping in butter-crisped ham for some all-to-rare (at least around here) duck cracklings.

Sweet Potato Soup

We like this soup with its mellow sweet potato flavor, made even more delicious with crispy, smoky ham and grassy-sweet sorghum brown butter. Even without the additions it would probably be delicious. But, really, country ham makes it much better.


(adapted from this recipe from Linton Hopkins)

Soup ingredients:

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes (1-1/2 to 2 lbs.)
  • 2 TB butter
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped 
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Leaves from several sprigs of thyme
  • Bay leaf
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 1/4 c. sour cream or crème fraîche
  • 1 tsp. sherry
  • Pepper

Ham topping ingredients:

  • 3 oz. country ham, cut in slivers (or substitute small pieces of cooked bacon, pancetta or duck skin)
  • 2 tsp. butter

Sorghum butter ingredients:

  • 4 TB butter
  • 2 TB lemon juice
  • 2 TB sorghum
  • 1/2 TB finely chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 400° F. Place the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil, poke a few times with a fork and bake until tender, about an hour. Remove from oven, cut open with a sharp knife and set aside to cool.

Heat butter and oil over medium low heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add onion, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 10 to 15 minutes. Then add garlic, thyme and bay leaf and cook for a bit more until garlic is softened.

Remove potato flesh from skins and add to pot along with chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Fish out the bay leaf and discard.

Purée soup with an immersion blender (or in batches in a regular blender). Add cream, milk, sour cream and sherry and stir to blend. Add pepper and, if needed, more salt. If soup is too thick, add some more chicken stock. Turn heat down to lowest setting (or, if preparing in advance, remove pot from heat.)

Melt butter in a small skillet. Add ham and brown over medium to medium-high heat, tossing frequently until crispy. Remove ham to a small plate or bowl.

Add remaining 4 tablespoons of butter to the skillet. Cook over medium heat until the butter is browned, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat, and add the lemon juice, sorghum and parsley.

To serve, reheat the soup, if necessary. Garnish each bowl of soup with a handful of ham slivers and about a tablespoon of sorghum butter.


  1. Yum, this looks awesome! We’re having a massive country ham for Christmas so I’m bookmarking this for guaranteed leftovers (or if the family is exceedingly hungry, I might just squirrel a portion away for this soup regardless – it looks amazing). Merry Christmas you two!

    • Squirreling away some good ham is a wonderful idea! Hope you have a lovely Christmas as well. (I’m always trying to get my head around the fact that you have Christmas in summer!)

  2. This looks and sounds really good. I have never cooked with sorghum, and it’s ubiquitous in southern Africa. I’d be interested to know how it tastes … and if you use it often. Thank you!

    • The sorghum syrup or molasses we have here in the South is very sweet, but it has a lovely grassy quality. We do use it a good bit. The most traditional thing is just to mix it with soft butter and put it on biscuits. But you can bake with it, much as the Brits do with golden syrup (though sorghum is much darker in color).

  3. ha! I love guanciale…especially in pasta carbonara…especially in the winter. Ultimate comfort food. But I bet I’d love this soup even more, especially with crispy country ham as a garnish. Sounds like the best sub for duck cracklin’s ever.

    • Guanciale is ok. I just can’t ever think of much to use it with, other than carbonara. Ideas? The ham has been delicious. Steve was getting all sad about the fact that it’s almost gone. I had to remind him that we can buy another!

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